The Pennsylvania Senate’s investigation into the Harrisburg incinerator bond deals will be wide-ranging, said the chairman of the committee that has scheduled a hearing on the matter.
“We have a lot of issues to look at, a lot of issues. Did somebody break the laws and just ignore them, and if so, what are the penalties for these folks? And are the laws subject to interpretation?” said Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair Township, who heads the local government committee.
The panel has scheduled an Aug. 29 public hearing at the state capitol, although Eichelberger added: “We’re looking at a multi-day process.”
“We need to look to what the laws are so that we don’t have a situation like this repeated again,” Eichelberger said. “A very small amount of debt increased over multiple borrowings into well over $300 million worth of debt for a facility that still doesn’t cash flow, and there were a lot of representations made in the process by a lot of people that this would work.
“We have swaps involved — we need to look at that again,” he said. “We have guaranteed fees by the city and [Dauphin County], and that’s highly unusual. We have a lot of professionals licensed by the commonwealth, many of them complicit in the decisions that were made. Some of them weren’t paid until the deals went through.”
The Harrisburg Authority, the public-works agency that owns the incinerator, released a forensic audit in January that blamed multiple parties for cost overruns in the incinerator retrofit project that left Pennsylvania’s capital city under state receivership.
According to the authority, several parties would not cooperate with the report. Its scope was subject to “the extent to which persons and entities voluntarily cooperated,” the authority said.
Eichelberger said the Senate could invoke subpoena power if necessary.