The city of Scranton is moving in the right direction, even though it has struggled, Mayor Chris Doherty said Thursday in his State of the City address.
Doherty is coming off a year in which Scranton had a budget deficit of more than $6 million, but in his address the mayor said he is confident he and city council are doing the right things to improve Scranton's financial situation.
For many people in the city of Scranton, 2011 will be remembered for a property tax hike and a $6 million budget shortfall.
On the topic of the city's financial struggles, Doherty said new-found cooperation between his office and city council will help.
In his eleventh state of the city address he spent most of the speech talking about plans to improve the look of the city.
Mayor Doherty announced the old Chamber of Commerce building on North Washington Avenue will be converted into apartments. He also said the city will invest one million dollars to repave streets, and spend more than $300,000 to demolish old buildings.
“It's important because first of all you remove blight so you remove an eyesore from a neighborhood. Second thing, you remove the opportunity for fire and crime because in desolate buildings people think they can do whatever they want,” said Mayor Doherty.
That's evidenced by an arson last week on Langstaff Place in the city. The massive fire tested a fire department that was hit with recent layoffs. The mayor said the city may relocate fire houses this year to improve protection.
One thing the mayor did not address was the city's recent property tax increases or a plan for taxes in the future, which is a major concern for city residents.
“It's a fortune just to live here, and you pay taxes for nothing," said William Kathalynas of Scranton.
“Well, there have been improvements, I'm not saying there haven’t been, but I mean it seems like any improvements it just falls to the taxpayers. They keep increasing their taxes,” said Marcella Marsh of Scranton.
Mayor Doherty is reaching the end of his third term in office. So far he has not announced any plans to run for a fourth term.