On Tuesday night, Harrisburg City Council approved a budget for 2013 that still includes a deficit of around $3.5 million.
It also includes that earned income tax that was mandated by the state-appointed receiver.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the approval of the mayor's request for a spokesperson. It's something council has been denying for the last couple of years. The current spokesman, Bob Philbin, has been working basically as a volunteer.
Council President Wanda Williams based her change of heart on the spokesman position after hearing from other mayors at a recent conference.
"It made me realize how vital that position was," Williams said. "And I had an opportunity to shadow the mayor to see what her interaction is on a daily basis and she certainly needs and individual of that sort."
Councilman Brad Koplinski voted against funding the Philbin position and was the lone vote on several other attempts to cut spending.
"I think it's sad tonight," Koplinski said. "The city raised taxes $5 or $6 million dollars on the people of the city and we could only muster $154,000 in cuts."
So what happens to that existing deficit? Council members are placing hope in the financial recovery plan submitted by the receiver.
"We're moving forward and we'll see what happens," said Koplinski. "Probably by April or May...that's the projection to see if the plan's going to work or not."
Council members were pleased about the approval of an additional $70,000 that will go toward street light repair.
Last year the mayor vetoed the budget that city council approved. Council ended up overriding that veto. This budget figures to be more to her liking.
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