Is Lancaster deep in debt? - abc27 WHTM

Is Lancaster deep in debt?

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A new report says if and when Harrisburg gets out of debt, Lancaster will have the most per capita debt of any municipality in Pennsylvania. But Lancaster's mayor says that report is misleading.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Lancaster was more than $220 million in debt in 2011. Divide that by the population of 59,000, and that works out to more than $3,700 of debt for every city resident.

"When you lump apples and oranges and grapefruits and potatoes together and you weigh it all and you say we have two pounds of grapefruits, well you don't. It's not that simple," Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said.

Gray said one of those "fruits" is a $100 million water filtration system. But Gray said it is self-liquidating, which means it has no bearing on the city's overall debt.

"Sixty percent of the people that we supply water to don't even live in the city and included in their rates is the payment of any debt incurred," Gray said.

Gray said two other "fruits" are also self-liquidating. The need to improve funding of police and fire pensions and improvements to the sewer system.

If you take all those out of the mix, Gray said it lowers the debt to $863 a person.

"A budget last year that produced a $2 million surplus. We have $12 million in reserves," Gray said. "We're in excellent shape, excellent shape. We're nowhere near Act 47 or anything along those lines."


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