The closing of Harrisburg's financial recovery plan "is not the end of anything," according to the state-appointed receiver in Pennsylvania's capital.
"It's the end of this phase of it, but now we move into a newer phase where the whole focus of activity will be more operationally oriented, more day-to-day city activity as the city comes to grips with changing the way it's done business for years," William Lynch told reporters after filing closing papers to the so-called Harrisburg Strong plan on Dec. 23.
Harrisburg will have a new mayor on Jan. 1, when Eric Papenfuse succeeds Linda Thompson.
Throughout his 18 months as receiver, Lynch, a retired Air Force general who once helped rebuild Baghdad, said the plan was the most complex challenge he ever worked on.
And he has the piles of paperwork to prove it.
"We have 12 feet of documents and I know that because I have a picture of the closing documents. It's really an astounding process," Lynch said, smiling. On closing day, he filed with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania a series of wire transfers valued at hundreds of millions "each of which had to happen in a certain sequence at a certain time so that other could then subsequently occur. Very complicated."
According to Lynch's office, the court documents alone are about two feet thick. They consist of four sets of filings consisting of 35 documents including ordinances; 13 settlement agreements; and four court orders covering three complicated transactions. The latter include the sale of the city incinerator to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, a parking-asset lease to an investor consortium and a settlement with Harrisburg University over defaulted parking garage bonds.
The deals involved 53 law firms, rating agencies and title companies; a dozen public agencies or government entities; and resolution of 31 separate claims. These included 15 settlement agreements, with one among 12 municipal entities, and 13 subcontractor claims.