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The Most Indebted City in the USA

A lot of cities in the United States are broke and in debt, but Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has the dubious distinction of having the most debt per capita of any U.S. city. The city's 50,000 residents collectively owe $1.5 billion. That's a whopping $30,000 per person.

In a matter of weeks, the city will run out of money. Zoe Chace of NPR's Planet Money has the story, which begins and ends with the town's trash incinerator which she dubbed "a fire-breathing, money-burning dragon of debt that sunk the town."

When the incinerator was first built, in 1969, Harrisburg officials hoped it would allow the city would collect fees from towns all over the state for burning their trash.

But by the time Unkovic got to Harrisburg, the incinerator had accumulated $300 million worth of debt. And it had never, in four decades, really worked properly.

When Unkovic first arrived in town, he thought it was just bad management. Now, he thinks it's something more sinister.


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