Council to see quarterly report on economic development strategies

Two companies under contract to provide consulting services to the city administration will present a quarterly report to City Council on strategies meant to improve economic development. The report will be given at the council meeting tonight.

“We are giving our quarterly report pursuant to the contract with the city,” said Jason M. Fitzgerald, senior vice president of Penn Strategies, of Harrisburg. Joining Fitzgerald will be Laura Templeton, regional vice president at Rettew Associates, 416 Pine St. The companies will present a similar overview every quarter to council.

In June or July, the representatives plan to present a detailed list of recommendations for additional economic development.

The city has a number of projects it is pursuing, including:

About $2 million in street reconstruction in the fall;

  • Rehabilitation of Bowman Field;

Reconstruction of East End Pool; and

  • Development of Destination 2014, including the reuse of the YMCA block and creation of an all-purpose civic arena, residential and commercial properties and a green space.

Fitzgerald said the consultants are in agreement with the administration’s pursuit of how to pay for the capital improvement projects, including refinancing existing debt service for the city, River Valley Transit and Williamsport Parking Authority.

It is the right time to seek out low-interest bank loan rates and use any savings to pay for capital improvement needs, Fitzgerald said.

“The city has among the lowest debt loads of any third-class city in the state and it is reasonable to borrow money in a time when interest rates are favorable,” he said.

“We don’t believe it is a problem for municipalities to incur debt, as long as the projects are infrastructure-related and not personnel or paying for police or fire services,” Fitzgerald added.