Harrisburg leaders push for parking transparency

Investigations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — For nearly two months, ABC27 News tried to get information about parking tickets in the city of Harrisburg for 2018.

Parking enforcement in the city is operated by a private company. Five years ago, the city sold its parking enforcement powers to reduce the city’s growing debt. It handed over the Harrisburg Parking Authority to the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority. PEDFA handed over the ticket book to a private company known as Park Harrisburg.

“While we are members of the parking advisory committee, Park Harrisburg does not report to the City of Harrisburg. They actually report to a board, which is PEDFA, which is state-run agency,” Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said.

PEDFA is part of the Department of Community and Economic Development. ABC27 News filed a right to know request with DCED, which said, “the department does not have the records that you request in its possession, under its custody or its control.”

“The county has a lot of power here and I think they’re really the ones you could ask why we can’t get the information that we need,” said Papenfuse.

We then filed a right to know request with Dauphin County for any financial reports or information related to Park Harrisburg. The county says it does not have access to that information but it does believe the company should be more transparent.

“If they’re asking for public dollars, that needs to be part of the case,” Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste said.

The county pointed us back to PEDFA. We filed the same right to know request for a second time and finally received the information we were looking for.

In 2018, Park Harrisburg issued 51,831 parking tickets that totaled $1,280,247. The most ticketed area was downtown.

“I think they have this data, I think the issue is that they don’t really share their data,” Papenfuse said.

Even though we received the information we were looking for, the city is still waiting for answers of their own from Park Harrisburg. It is looking for parking data to gauge business in downtown. 

“For two years, we have not received anything, any reports. We have been requesting a meeting, we’ve been requesting data, reports, anything that has that shows us the revenue basis, none at all,” City Council President Wanda Williams said.

PEDFA, the county, the city, and Park Harrisburg will meet at the end of this month to discuss parking in the city. Both the mayor and council president say transparency will be brought up. The public will also have an opportunity to voice their concerns at a public meeting on May 28.

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