Since New Year’s Eve, 41 sinkholes have opened up in Harrisburg, Penn. One is so large, residents have named it “Super Sinkhole Walter” and made it a check-in location on the social media site Four Square, the New York Daily News reported Friday.
But that isn’t the most noteworthy news. According to the Wall Street Journal, Harrisburg is on the verge of bankruptcy and can’t afford to fix the sinkholes. When the first sinkhole opened, “city workers called a contractor, who wanted assurances that the city could pay for the repairs,” the newspaper said. “The city is about three months behind on its bills.”
Does that surprise you in a city controlled by Democrats in a state that has voted Democrat in the past six presidential elections, a state controlled by a Democratic governor from 2003 to 2011?
“Harrisburg is in default on its debt” and is unable to get any new loans to finance repairs or upgrades of its current infrastructure, the Journal reported.
The article explained how the city began finding itself in dire financial straits:
Harrisburg’s latest problems started when city officials agreed to guarantee a large portion of the $350 million in debt used to retrofit a state-of-the-art trash incinerator. The project generated millions in fees for Wall Street bankers and lawyers, while leaving taxpayers with a mortgage they can’t afford. Amid this borrowing spree, city and state officials say, Harrisburg neglected to invest enough in its aging water pipes.
A state-appointed receiver took over the city’s finances and implemented a plan that has the city borrowing from itself to continue operating.
“Harrisburg obtained a $4 million line of credit from fee revenue collected by the sewer and trash departments, the very funding source that is supposed to be used to upgrade underground pipes,” the Journal said.