Scranton Mayor: Deadline for Loan Drawing Near

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Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty said Thursday  his recovery plan that lays out tax hikes for the next three years is needed for the city to secure a $16 million loan to pay bills.

Doherty said the recovery plan needs to be approved by city council very soon, but council won't take any official action at its Thursday night meeting.

There was a steady line at city hall all day Thursday. It was the last day for city residents to pay their garbage fee; a fee that may be going up next year if the mayor's proposed tax plan is accepted.

Last week, Mayor Doherty released a recovery plan for the next three years needed for the city the secure a $16 million loan to pay bills for this year.

Mayor Doherty's proposed a 29 percent property tax increase next year, a 20 percent hike in 2014 and another 15 percent hike in 2015.

That means the average homeowner would pay about an extra $300 over the next three years.

There is also a proposed hike in garbage fees and a proposed commuter tax.

"The city has a lot of problems, too few employees, too much taxation, no development in the city, and I also don't believe in a commuter tax," said Scranton resident Lee Morgan, who had stopped into City Hall to pay his garbage fee.

The recovery plan needs city council approval before it goes to the bank, and some council members have already said they will vote "no" to the recovery plan as is.

Mayor Doherty handed his recovery plan to city council last week. He said he hoped it would be on council's agenda this week, but it's not.

The mayor said that is disappointing, since the city is running out of time to secure the $16 million loan.

That loan is budgeted to pay four months of workers' salaries this year, and Mayor Doherty said if the recovery plan is approved by the bank it will take another 45 days for the city to get its hands on that money.

"When my credit rating stinks, I can't go to the bank because they won't give me money, no matter who says. So, funding debt with more debt just seems to me to be a little odd," said Jackie Tenell of Scranton.

Newswatch 16 was unable to reach any members of city council to ask why the recovery plan will not be discussed at Thursday's meeting, but according to city officials, it's city council president Janet Evans who makes agenda decisions.