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Distressed No More? State to Lay Out Exit Plan for Scranton

SCRANTON -- The city of Scranton may soon shed the label it's had for more than two decades. The state says Scranton is set up to no longer be called a "distressed city."

State officials are expected to lay out what they call an "exit plan" at Scranton City Hall Wednesday night.

Scranton was the first major city to be labeled "distressed" under the state law called Act 47. Scranton's kept that label for about 25 years. It's subjected the city to state oversight for all those years.

State officials are going to lay out a plan that would have the city removed from distressed status in just three years.

"I think that it really gave the city, and gives the city, a negative view," said Kelly Mazzucca of Scranton. "Especially for younger people that might be wanting to come here for school, for a job. It just turns people away. And I really don't think that we are as distressed as everybody thinks that we actually are."

It seems that state officials are starting to agree with Mazzucca's notion. In a report sent to Scranton City Hall earlier this month, the state says Scranton may be ready to shed its distressed status.

Mayor Bill Courtright says some of the city's most plaguing financial problems have found solutions in the past few years and the state oversight that comes along with the distressed status may no longer be necessary.

"A major feather in our cap, we're really, really pleased, and I can't stop smiling about it," said Mayor Courtright. "It's a stigma that's over your head, who wants to invest in a city that's under distressed status? Who wants to move into a city that's under distressed status? Coming out of distressed status, it enables us to, if we need to borrow money or do bonds, at reasonable rates."

Mayor Courtright says interest rates on the city's debt have dropped dramatically already for the average citizen. Living in a city that's no longer distressed will likely mean that property taxes will remain the same.

"I hope they won't go up, you know, stay level. That's what people look for, you know? Lower taxes. It seems like every time something new comes up, they got to raise the taxes. Not everybody can deal with that or afford that," said city resident Juan Gonzalez.

The state thinks coming out of distressed status will take about three years as long as the city maintains the status quo.

1 Comment

  • TinyTim

    The entire area is distressed I think Shamokin has been distressed since 1989. Hazleton and Shenandoah are bad off for years.

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