City of Wilkes-Barre Denied Request for Act 47

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- The city of Wilkes-Barre was denied its request to become a distressed city.

People in Wilkes-Barre are surprised to learn this.

"They spread it around to other places and we're always left out in the cold, it seems. So, what's their reason for denying it?" Chris Fields of Kingston said.

City leaders tell Newswatch 16 they are also surprised. The administrator said the revenue has remained stagnant while its expenses continue to increase. That's why the city decided to file for Act 47.

The Act 47 program is designed to help communities shore up their finances within five years. Among other things, communities can ask to raise taxes more than would normally be allowed.

Wilkes-Barre began to pursue Act 47 status in June.

"There is constantly businesses opening and closing," Fields said. " It's like a revolving door and if there was more stability, maybe some of that could be alleviated."

Workers from the county's visitors bureau said even though the city is filing for distressed city status, there is still a lot to do in the city.

"We really don't want to focus on the negative aspects of the verbiage of being distressed or anything," Donna Keyes with Visit Luzerne County said. "So, I think we really have to stay focused on all the area's assets which are our great outdoors, our really affordable attractions and that really warm, homey small-town charm that we have."

Wilkes-Barre officials said they will now have to work with the state to decide other options for its money problems. Still, people we spoke with are hoping there is still a chance Wilkes-Barre will become a distressed city.

"I hope they have another opinion on it and it goes back and they get a distressed city," Mike Rusinko of Pittston said. "There is a lot going on around here. They need help."

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