Chaotic Harrisburg's fiscal czar resigns

Harrisburg's state-appointed receiver, bond lawyer David Unkovic, has resigned.

The move surprised Gov. Tom Corbett. Unkovic "sent a resignation letter to Commonwealth Court, which appointed him, this morning," Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley told me. "His resignation is unexpected and unfortunate."

Harley added, "Gov. Corbett will move quickly to recruit another receiver. Gov. Corbett remains committed to working toward financial stability for the city of Harrisburg."

Unkovic's resignation follows his request for a federal and state criminal investigation into the Harrisburg incinerator bond issues that have left the state capital insolvent and unable to pay its debt, as well as a court decision that undercut his authority by allowing incinerator creditors to appoint their own, rival receiver. Note and links here.

Corbett signed a law supported by suburban Harrisburg politicians that gave the state control over the city's finances through the office Unkovic held. State and suburban officials have generally favored selling city assets to raise money to pay bondholders. City Council and the city's financial officers had favored a rival plan to seek federal bankruptcy protection, raise sales or income taxes, and trim bond payments to the city's creditors. 

Unkovic prepared to sell the incinerator and other city assets as state officials had recommended. But he also doubted the city's long-term ability to pay its bills. And, the longer he was in the job, the more critical he seemed to be of the political-financial establishment that has benefited from Harrisburg's borrowings at taxpayers' expense.

More at Today's the Day Harrisburg blog here.