It Begins: Harrisburg Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
10/12/2011

We are confident the spinmasters will spin the first major domino in the muni crisis as bullish: after all it “removes uncertainty.” Bloomberg reports that “The city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, facing a state takeover of its finances, filed for bankruptcy protection following a vote by the City Council, according to a lawyer for the council.Mark D. Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based lawyer and a former public finance banker for Prudential Financial Inc., said he filed the documents by fax to a federal bankruptcy court last night. The filing couldn’t be confirmed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Harrisburg.The state capital of 49,500 faces a debt burden five times its general-fund budget because of an overhaul and expansion of a trash-to-energy incinerator that doesn’t generate enough revenue. “This was a last resort,’’ Schwartz said in an interview after the council voted 4-3 to seek bankruptcy protection. “They’re at their wits’ end.’’While bankruptcy would mean the loss of state aid under a law passed in June, it would be preferable to a proposed recovery plan, said Councilwoman Susan Brown-Wilson.” Well, at least Jefferson County will not have the dubious legacy of being the first muni to push everyone else over. And now that the precedent has been set (yes, Virginia, it can be done) watch as tens if not hundreds of other cash-strapped towns, cities, localities and other entities follow suit promptly to quite promptly.

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