Asking the Voters: Bankruptcy for Scranton?

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.

12 comments

  • Niki Hannevig

    By Whose “Authority”? How about getting at the ROOT of LACKAWANNA COUNTY’s financial problems?

    Between March 19th and April 17th 1945 a series of nine (9) full page “advertisements” were placed in The Scranton Times newspaper by the FEDERAL WATER AND GAS CORPORATION to (presumably) inform “communities” of their options to either “buy” The Scranton-Spring Brook Water System or “continue to pay rent (so to speak) to an outside owner”. Of particular importance in this series was Ad No. 8, A Modern Public Authority Combines Two Sound Principles:

    “Authorities” represent a practical combination of two sound principles – the “pay-as-you-go” principle of “Revenue” Bonds, and the principle of separating the business of “Authorities” from the governmental functions of cities, counties, towns, etc.

    And: WHERE HAS THE CORPORATE UNITED STATES HIDDEN ITS STATE’S SECRET?

    Think of the plight of our nation and the integrity of our courts like this:

    Just as all good “co-dependents” in a “dysfunctional” family will protect the “family secret”; so will those with “privilege” (lawyers, judges, politicians, media, etc.) in a dysfunctional nation protect their “state secrets” by promulgating the laws that their corporate “Law Enforcers” will enforce and upon which their courts will adjudicate.

    Alcoholics hide their “booze”;

    Drug Addicts hide their “stash”;

    Power mongers hide their “corporations”. (See page 185 of the 1906 “History: the First national bank of Scranton, Pa.”)

  • THE REAL SCRANTONY

    Scranton needs to be stripped of all its frivolous assets and corrupt democrat officials leaching of the system so that the city can be a lean, profitable city. You can only tax so much before the real Americans will revolt against you.Remember when Scranton officials wanted to implement a 2% county wide tax on all residents to pull Scranton out of the mess its leaders got into? Why should a property owner in Clarks Summit, a business owner in Dunmore, or a worker in Jessup bail out Scranton and its leaders? Just like the goons and illegals, if you keep giving them hand outs and bail them out of every bad decision they make they’ll never learn and you’ll be the loser with out any money. Its time that Scranton (along with the goons & illegals) face the consequences for their follies. If Scranton is to ever get back to its glory days, a clean slate is necessary, difficult yes, but necessary.

  • Start Anew

    Declare bankruptcy and open up under a better name. Wilkes- Barre Scranton is not an appealing name to live in. Put new names on the ballot. Start anew.

  • sc

    i’d live in a van. Down by the river, before i’d ever live in Scranton.
    How about dismissing the powers that be from their comfortable positions if they can not manage the city as it is.
    How about pushing out the bums and criminals and embracing a positive family community?
    How about community organizers that develop unity projects with incentives for residents that participate in co-ops.
    Scranton is stealing from its people. its an active socialist society. Socialist societies are run by dictators and historically always fail. with the exception of the dictators.
    Be responsable for yourself and dont burden all other societies because of your own poor investments and crooked schemes. A bankrupt city is at a cost to others that dont reside there.

  • Joe Swanson

    Gary st floor has no clue prop taxes will SOAR if the city declares bankruptcy if st floor has any real ideas he should offer them rather than bash the city in poorly proofread, grammatically incorrect Facebook postings

    • Gary in Pennsylvania

      How So? Ridiculously high, unreasonable expenses will be nullified, yet the current tax revenue will stay the same. Same taxes having to NOT pay for a HUUUUGE obscene and unreasonable expense leaves more disposable income in the budget for spending that matters.

  • Spencer C

    City Coucilman Councilman Rogan is right, bankrupcy sounds great but it just means even higher taxes and less local services. I read the police department can even be eliminated under bankrupcy.

  • JohnKimbll

    “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.”

    The higher taxes are inevitable. What he and the others don’t like is the idea of losing their power.

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