The attorney representing Harrisburg, Pa.’s City Council in its bankruptcy filing has filed another appeal of the rejection of its Chapter 9 case.
Mark Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr, Pa., solo practitioner, has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, challenging Judge Sylvia Rambo’s ruling that upheld a federal judge’s nullification of the bankruptcy filing in November.
“This is where the case belongs,” Schwartz said.
On Nov. 23, Judge Mary France of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg rejected the bankruptcy filing, citing a restrictive Pennsylvania law and objections by the city’s mayor, Linda Thompson.
Rambo upheld France on Feb. 1, after the latter judge ruled that Schwartz missed a deadline for appealing.
“There was good cause for an extension of time to file an appeal,” according to Schwartz.
The attorney also complained that Rambo allowed neither the filing of briefs nor a hearing.
“I don’t know how the other court could rule without a briefing,” Schwartz added. “Judge France didn’t even bother.”
Harrisburg, the state capital, carries about $310 million in debt, and has skipped about $65 million of bond payments related to a failed incinerator retrofit project.
A receiver, David Unkovic, has crafted a financial recovery plan for the troubled city.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which must approve Unkovic’s plan, has scheduled a public hearing for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Ave. in Harrisburg.
The hearing room has been changed to the fifth floor of Courtroom 5001.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett appointed Unkovic to serve as receiver in November after the state legislature passed a law declaring a fiscal emergency in Harrisburg.
That followed three rejections by the City Council — all by 4-3 votes — of a proposed workout under the state-sponsored Act 47 program for distressed communities, into which the city enrolled in December.
The receiver is valuing the city’s assets, including its incinerator and parking garages.
He wants to conclude that process by April and to close on a sale or lease of them by June 30.
Unkovic, the former chief counsel for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, has also issued requests for proposals for the management and operation of the water and wastewater assets.
The receiver has also recommended hiring a chief operating officer at a $110,000 salary, a position that has been vacant for more than two years.