SCRANTON -- A petition is circulating in Scranton asking citizens if they think the city should file for bankruptcy and it could end up on the ballot in a future election.
Scranton City Council looked into bankruptcy for the city several years ago. The idea is now being revived by a petition. It needs a few thousand signatures and then could become a question on an upcoming ballot.
If voters say yes, would Scranton then be forced into bankruptcy?
A barber shop is the place to get the latest talk, and lately, a petition on the counter at Guy's Barber Shop in downtown Scranton is getting a lot of talk.
"Most people say they should have done this 15 years ago, should have filed for bankruptcy 15 years ago," said owner Damian Biancarelli.
Biancarelli's name is one of several dozens on that petition that asks residents of Scranton if the city should file for bankruptcy.
"I believe that the Scranton taxpayer is being overtaxed, as well as businesses, to pay for inadequacies of our government," Biancarelli said.
Gary St. Fleur created the petition. He runs a blog called "Save Scranton" and has been talking to city residents about the possibility of bankruptcy for a few weeks now.
"The position from most Scrantonians is that, 'Aren't we already bankrupt?' They're surprised, like, 'Why are we filing for bankruptcy, aren't we already bankrupt?' I say, 'No, no no, we're bankrupt in the sense that we don't have any money.' We haven't filed bankruptcy protection," said St. Fleur.
More than 2,000 people would need to sign the petition before the big question appeared on an election ballot.
St. Fleur says the city's settlement of police and fire contracts and the expected sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority have frustrated voters.
"The Scranton taxpayer, which makes up 98 percent of the population, is being put on the hook for two percent of the population that works for the government," St. Fleur added.
"If it ends up on the ballot, which is a huge hypothetical, we would have to see what the results of that ballot initiative are, but I think the residents of Scranton do realize that we have made a lot of progress and bankruptcy isn't really an option for the city at this time," said Pat Rogan, (D) Scranton City Council.
Councilman Rogan says bankruptcy is something he seriously considered back in 2012 but one he doesn't think Scranton voters will take seriously now. Bankruptcy would mean the state would appoint someone to handle the city's finances.
"Unfortunately, it's not a viable option for the city of Scranton," said Rogan. "It would just result in less local control and higher taxes for the residents of Scranton."
What we don't know is if a question about bankruptcy on the ballot could be enforced if the voters say yes.
The man who created the petition, Gary St. Fleur, says he would be willing to fight it in court.