Pain of the Pay Cut

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SCRANTON -- One day after the mayor of Scranton announced that the city can only afford to pay its municipal workers minimum wage many of those employees are taking a closer look at their family budgets.

The electric city is facing a grim economic outlook, at least until it can secure a $16 million bank loan, but until then, how will workers make ends meet?

Many city employees said on Wednesday they went home to their families and started figuring it out, how they'll get through with significantly less pay.

“Everybody has it, it might be a car payment, mortgage payments, son or daughter going to college, those type of costs,” said Dave Schreiber, a Scranton Firefighter.

It weighed on the minds of many Scranton firefighters, a smaller paycheck, for the time being until the city can secure a loan that it needs to pay workers' full salaries.

Scranton firefighters spent the day trying to figure out how they'll make ends meet on minimum wage, 7.25 an hour. That's all the 500 or so city employees will receive in their next paycheck.

“My wife and I sat down last night about it, any spending we’re going to curtail, putting a vacation on hold,” said Schreiber.

“If this goes on for a while maybe go see the banks, ask for deferments, this and that, because everybody's got mortgage payments, student loans,” said Bobby Lucas, a Scranton Firefighter.

The drastic pay cut is the result of a fight between Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and city council. Doherty said council hasn't done what it needs to do to secure the $16 million loan. So, to keep the city afloat, he slashed salaries.

“Well, I hope it doesn't last very long. I hope the mayor and city council can get together and do something,” said Paulette Karwoski, of Scranton Code Enforcement.

Workers in Scranton's inspections and code enforcement office said they're hit especially hard by the pay cut. Employees there use their own cars to drive around the city for work, but because of the city's financial situation, they haven't received mileage reimbursement at all this year.

“There's no way for me to put gas in my car, once I'm dropped back to minimum wage I got to make a car payment, I got to make a mortgage payment, I got to pay my car insurance. Where does the money for the gas come to drive around the neighborhood?” said Patti Fowler, Scranton Housing Inspector.

Newswatch 16 also learned that the court hearing for the lawsuit Mayor Doherty has filed against city council has been pushed back to August 3. If city council decides to fight the lawsuit that means employees could be receiving minimum wage until at least that day.

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