The Harrisburg City Council Tuesday night tabled two nominees to the Harrisburg Authority’s board, continuing a political standoff with the mayor that has left the board without a quorum and bondholders with an uncertain future.
The seven-member council tabled, in a 4-3 vote, Mayor Linda Thompson’s two nominees, former council member Reizdan Moore and lobbyist Westburn Majors.
The authority has two sitting board members, but needs three for a quorum. The next council meeting is Sept. 14.
“We can’t conduct business” without a quorum, authority board member Marc Kurowski said, noting it has now been 90 days.
The authority cannot pay its vendors and cannot sign off on agreements and plans to address $282 million of outstanding incinerator bonds.
The agency does not have sufficient revenue to pay the bonds.
The city, first guarantor of the bonds, did not include incinerator debt-service payments in its $64.7 million fiscal 2010 budget.
Bondholders have been paid from debt service reserves and payments from co-guarantor Dauphin County and Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp., insurer of much of the debt.
Some council members have asked Thompson to reinstate former board member Neil Grover, who they maintain has the knowledge and experience to help tackle the authority’s debt woes.
“Mr. Grover deserves to be on the Harrisburg Authority,” councilman Brad Koplinski wrote in an e-mail. “He was a driving force towards bringing stakeholders to the table to move forward on solving our crisis. He put forth a quality plan to solve our debt difficulties.”
Thompson spokesman Chuck Ardo said a Grover nomination is unlikely.
“The mayor is frustrated by the [council’s] continued stalling tactics,” he said. “Their role is to advise and consent, not to demand or dictate.”
In June, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the mayor nominates board members to the Harrisburg Authority — not the City Council, which had sought a role in the process.
In addition, four council members believe the administration’s recent pick of Scott Balice Strategies to help Harrisburg craft a debt-financing plan was done in error because the entire council was not involved in the selection process.
Council President Gloria Martin-Roberts sat on the selection committee and was involved in choosing the outside financial adviser.
Koplinski said he would block any compensation to the firm or any financial suggestions Scott Balice puts forward.
“I am asking for the selection process to be re-opened for a short period of time so that council can be a full partner in this process,” Koplinski wrote. “Until that happens, Scott Balice will not be paid and I will not consider any recommendations by the firm as valid.”
City Council members Tuesday evening sent a resolution to apply for state funds to help pay for Scott Balice’s services to one of its committees for discussion and review.
In other news, the authority last week was able to begin new contracts for its professional liability insurance and infrastructure insurance after a judge deemed that Kurowski and fellow board member Bill Cluck could act as a majority on those specific contracts.