Business, Economics and Jobs

David Unkovic, state-appointed receiver for Harrisburg, Pa., resigns


The Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 14, 2011.



David Unkovic, the receiver appointed to help struggling Harrisburg, Pa., get a handle on its debt problem, resigned today after just four months of work.

The state appointed Unkovic after a federal judge blocked the city from filing for bankruptcy in November.

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Pennsylvania’s capital city has amassed $317 million worth of debt through cost overruns from the upgrade of the city's incinerator, Reuters reported. In March, Harrisburg skipped $5.3 million of debt payments.

Unkovic gave no reason for resigning in his letter to the Commonwealth Court, Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

"It was unexpected and unfortunate, but obviously this administration is committed to working toward financial stability for the city of Harrisburg," Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tom Corbett, told the Wall Street Journal. "We'll move quickly with recommending a new receiver, and we'll go from there."

Unkovic had sought to sell or lease assets to generate cash, and the city was looking for buyers for its incinerator and considering selling its parking garages and water and sewer system, Reuters reported.

This week, a court appointed a second receiver to oversee the incinerator, the Wall Street Journal, which might have complicated Unkovic’s work. Also, on Mar. 28, Unkovic asked for state and federal investigations into “possible illegal activities” in financing an overhaul of the incinerator, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

"From what's happened the last couple days, it was pretty clear to me that you'd either see him resigning or getting replaced by Corbett," Mark Schwartz, who represented the city council members in bankruptcy court, told the Wall Street Journal.

Neil Grover, attorney for Debt Watch Harrisburg, a citizens' group that has favored bankruptcy, but worked with Unkovic, told Reuters the receiver was forced out. "He was trying to do the right thing, trying to be balanced and even-handed and, you know, the powers that be could not tolerate that," Grover said.

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