SCRANTON — A public hearing held by Scranton City Council Thursday night may just be one for the history books.
For the first time in years, Mayor Chris Doherty made an appearance in council`s chambers, a council he has sparred with in public.
The mayor and city business administrator Ryan McGowan joined council to present the newest recovery plan proposal during a public hearing.
“I have to say I think we`ve made tremendous progress. I think we`re on the right track,” said Mayor Doherty, addressing council.
This cooperation is a far cry from the usually contentious relationship between the mayor and the majority council.
Many speakers agreed having the mayor here showed progress.
“I really appreciate it. I think it`s very, very nice and I`m grateful and it shows he really cares about the people in this city, thank Mr. Doherty,” said one speaker.
Others took this an opportunity to attack the mayor in person.
“I’ve been talking behind your back. And now you`re here so I`m talking to you face to face,” said another speaker.
The latest recovery plan proposal comes after the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) had major concerns about the city`s first plan on August 2.
The revised plan still calls for a commuter tax, a sales tax, and payment in lieu of taxes from non-profit organizations, such as universities.
With those taxes, the city says over the next three years, property taxes will be raised by 35 percent instead of the 78 percent initially proposed by the mayor.
“We`re in conversations with everybody every day and tonight`s an example of the cooperation that we`ve had together,” said Doherty.
“It serves the tax payers well. It shares the financial burden among many entities,” said council president Janet Evans.
Opinions on the plans were split by residents.
“You`re counting on revenue that is not ever been materialized yet,” said one speaker.
“The non-profits, they stated we`re not going to see a dime from them. It`s time they`re held accountable. They`ve gotten a free ride for decades,” said another speaker.
Still others feel the only way out is to raise taxes on everyone.
“Why don`t we do things the common sense way? If we have to raise taxes 129 percent, raise them 129 percent. Let`s get it over with,” said the final speaker.