Harrisburg's Audit Reveals Budget Woes

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By Sam Jones
By Andy Shofstall

HARRISBURG -- Leaders are getting a clearer picture of the budget challenges facing Harrisburg. 

A new audit presented Thursday shows the city's finances are in dire straits. There's a nearly $500,000 deficit in the general fund. It adds another wrinkle to the debate about handling fire calls outside city limits.  

The city's audit for fiscal year 2013 confirmed the council's fears. Expenses are rising higher than their revenue, largely due to the decline in sales tax funds.

"People are spending their money outside the city and on the internet," Commissioner Ron Fearheiley revealed.

It's created quite the challenge.

"It hits us hard. It hits us very hard and we're trying to do the best we can with the revenue we've got," added Fearheiley.

The council also addressed the ongoing debate about responding to fire calls outside the city limits at Thursday's meeting. Leaders agreed that most are paid for either by insurance or out-of-pocket by homeowners.

Resident Beth Montfort wonders why responding to them ever became an issue

"I don't know if it's another reason to raise taxes, another reason to try to bring people into the city limits. I'm not sure what their motive is, but it's not that they're not getting their money," Montfort explained.

Leaders now remain divided on responding to calls outside the township. John McPeek believes everyone should be covered.

"I think the city has the finances. I think they have the equipment. We have the manpower to assist people outside the township and I really wish we would do that," he said.

City leaders have until May 1 to present a balanced budget.

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