HAZLETON -- Hazleton's mayor has filed for Act 47. The news is a welcome surprise to people who live and visit the city.
"I think it is something that needs to be done because the city is really in dire straits," Norbet Chaiko of Hazle Township said.
Act 47 means Hazleton is asking for help from the state to get the city out of financial distress. Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat said he filed for Act 47 without consulting the city council. He sent out a news release that blamed the council members for his filing. In it, he said:
"The actions and inactions of a majority of City Council with placing their own self-interest and political gain above the best interest of the city has forced me to make this important decision."
Newswatch 16 spoke to city council President Jack Mundie.
"I'm still not convinced 100 percent that we should go into right now, although 10 or 12 years ago I thought we should have," Mundie said.
Mundie does not agree with the mayor's decision to file. He said the city's financial problems are the mayor's fault.
"The problem with the city is that the mayor isn't following our budget and is spending money that isn't his own that he doesn't care about," Mundie said.
Mayor Cusat said he tried to get the council to look at other ways to help the city's financial status. He said the council turned those down and he had no choice but to file.
"It is my hope and prayer that together with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development that we will navigate through the process of financial recovery with or without the assistance of City Council," Cusat said.
If the state gives the city Act 47 status, it will be eligible for grants, loans, and guidance that would help Hazleton city leaders make a plan to get out of financial distress.