SCRANTON -- Scranton’s mayor said the city is running out of money since it cannot secure a $16 million loan. Now Mayor Chris Doherty has a drastic plan to keep the city running. The mayor said until the city can get that loan, all city employees, including the mayor, will be paid minimum wage.
Mayor Chris Doherty said Scranton is facing a dire financial situation. The mayor said the city has already spent $35 million of its $71 million budget. He fears the city could run out of money because a loan counted on by council has not come through.
“Council passed a budget that had $16 million of borrowing in it and they`ve been unwilling to fund their budget,” said Mayor Doherty. “The banking community said they need certain things to be done, and council has been unwilling to do it. Therefore we have not received that $16 million.”
Mayor Doherty said starting July 6, all city employees will make minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, until that loans is secured.
John Judge, president of the firefighters' union, said he and the unions representing police, public works, and clerical workers met with the mayor shortly before the announcement was made public.
“Contractually it`s a violation of our contract and obviously we`ll take the attorney`s advice and follow up with that, but he`s going to do what he`s going to do,” said Judge. “He`s done that for ten years. We`ve fought him in court for 10 years, and it looks like it`s going to be another legal battle as well unfortunately.”
This move comes as the mayor is taking city council to court over the city`s recovery plan. The mayor wants to raise taxes by 78% over the next four years.
In a response, Council President Janet Evans said “It is disgraceful that the mayor is now using city employees as leverage to bully city council into approving his 78% tax increase to crucify Scranton taxpayers.”
The mayor said the city must prove to banks it can pay back that loan and that means raising taxes.
“The challenge today is council hasn`t been able to fund their budget because they haven`t put a plan together, and the banks won`t give us the money that they want to borrow until the plan is put in place,” said Mayor Doherty.
The mayor said once that loan comes through all employees will be given retroactive pay from the time the minimum wage salary started.