Scranton to Address Recovery Plan Concerns

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SCRANTON -- Scranton city leaders are again working on their recovery plan after the state expressed concerns about sources of funding.

The Pennsylvania Economy League is concerned about proposed revenue coming from things that are not even on the books yet, such as a sales tax.

After an often bitter battle over filling a $16 million hole in the city's budget, Scranton city officials agreed on a recovery plan a week ago.

The PEL had been reviewing it and sent a letter to city officials Thursday. While the plan was not rejected, PEL officials said they have some concerns they would like the city to address, before the state gives the city any money.

"It`s not a 'no' at all. The conversation is, `Look, here`s a couple things we`d like to see done. Why don`t you come back to us and see if we can get to that place,` and I`m confident that we will be able to," said Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.

The state did not reject the city's recovery plan, but P.E.L. has some concerns including: the city counting on revenue from new taxes that are not approved yet, such as sales and commuter taxes; loans that banks have not offered yet; and funding from non-profits that is not agreed to yet.

PEL officials said they want to see commitments, or proof, that the city will be able to get funding from some of those sources, or have a plan to get that money some other way, such as through property taxes.

Approval of the recovery plan is needed for the city to get $2 million in state loans to help with payroll and more.

"PEL remains encouraged by the continued positive dialogue that is taking place between the City Council and the Mayor and our letter is meant to continue that progress.  The Act 47 recovery plan's goal has always been for the city to adopt a viable plan that will bring long-term financial stability to the city and restore confidence in the banking community that will allow the city to borrow much-needed funds to stabilize its cash-flow situation," said Gerald Cross, PEL executive director.

"At the end of the day, everyone wants this to work and that`s what people have to remember. We`ve made great progress over the last eight days and I`m very confident we`ll continue to make more progress and we will get through this," added Doherty.

The state gave city leaders an extension to respond to these latest funding concerns.

The city now has until Tuesday to submit a revised recovery plan and until August 21 to adopt the plan.

Read PEL's letter to Scranton city officials here