Mayor slashes city workers' salaries to minimum wage
Scranton, Pa. mayor defends move to address massive deficit
- Duration 6:24
- Date Jul 11, 2012
Scranton, Pa. mayor defends move to address massive deficit
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
-- massive deficit causes them -- one city to take some pretty drastic measures.
Scranton Pennsylvania has been on the State's distressed cities last for twenty years.
And this year the city faces a sixteen point eight million dollar budget shortfall.
So the mayor made the very unpopular move of cutting the pay of nearly 400 workers.
To minimum wage seven dollars and 25 cents an hour so now he's got unions for both the police and the firefighters.
Planning to hold him in contempt of court to restore their pay.
Here is one union president's reaction.
Or ten years I've watched this guy walked to the core orders.
Martin walked all over our contracts it's unfortunate that it's gotta be pushed this -- but you know.
-- members are suffering here every day that goes -- is there is another question mark for them and how they're gonna meet their financial obligations and pay their mortgage.
Size -- joined now by the mayor of Scranton Chris Doherty -- -- welcome good to have you here this morning.
Good morning with that so let's get your reaction action that gentleman up from the union he's he's a fireman what what do you say -- Well obviously we've known others that troubles that we're gonna happen this year because our council passed a budget that was based on borrowing and now they've been unwilling to.
-- that borrowing and as a result we have we have a shortfall.
We've made all the employees aware of what may happen as we continue to -- -- that Aaron be unwilling to fund their budget which is council is done.
Our employees do a great job -- outstanding or firemen or police are DPW workers are clerical workers all -- do an outstanding job.
And it's unfortunate City Council has passed a budget that's based on -- And as unwilling to fund.
You know when you decide to borrow the banks have -- say.
In the terms and conditions and right now they've been unwilling to meet those conditions but we're gonna work with them to make sure we get through this -- that's our jobs.
As a leaders of the city to get through it and take care the employees but also taking the citizens of our city and protect their number one asset which is their home.
-- you say this say it you know everybody sort of knew that this was a possibility that this could have been coming.
Your proposal as I understand it what was to raise property taxes by 789%.
And also to instituted charge 22 dollars firfer garbage pick -- You know why increase property taxes disintegrate extent 79 -- a lot.
Well two things first of all.
The budget -- last year for 2012.
It would have been increased the taxes by -- 130 dollars and that would solve problems that we have today.
Because council chose to borrow and ignore.
Now they're forced -- the banks in the banks have said we wanna know I gonna pay us back.
And what I've done is explain to them here's what you have to -- -- out to project your cost over the next.
And sever years to pay them back.
It's it's very difficult and it's a very difficult situation.
But I always said this is I've been elected three times you have to be honest with the people and say these -- -- services cost.
You know we have been burdened with a lot of legacy costs in -- Kenya and what we're trying to do is manage -- all all left for everyone.
In the city in the employees and to make it work.
Well -- that that's exactly what I wanted to get to hear because in so many cities across America the issue is the legacy -- the pensions you know we heard Governor Christie just Saturday.
Say look I don't want the federal government to send me any more money for federal workers -- I have got enough problems dealing with that the number of federal workers that I have been pain.
That the pension promises that they have been made to all of these workers is there any discussion about reworking pensions going for word or restructuring.
You're city's financial situation so that this doesn't happen again you know get out of a hole.
Yet there are discussions going on but I think you touchdown Martha Chris is our health care bills fifteen million dollars.
The majority of that bill goes to retirees those -- agreements or made before I became the mayor.
And we need to you know address and understand those costs now cities like Scranton throughout the northeast particularly -- -- -- have -- -- -- and very birds some.
-- -- recently were able to get a grant from the federal government where we're able to hire bring back firemen who were laid off.
But I -- hired an additional twenty fireman and I said no because I didn't -- a burden the taxpayers of our city but that additional -- you have to be fiscally prudent.
I became -- eleven years ago we -- 500 employees today we have 400 we're trying to reduce our costs.
But it's very difficult.
In the especially in this environment where the federal government has no money the state -- no money.
And for cities we're -- hard government you know with the pick up the garbage we are police and fire trucks around the streets every day.
We have to plow and -- we have to fix our parks.
People see us every day it's different than.
When in the state and federal governments -- you don't really touched down what with the city government list of -- You see your services every day and they have to be out there every day -- and every morning.
You know hijackers have a little bit of time left but some of these -- as firefighters policeman had been living on about 16100.
Dollars for two weeks now they're down to a 600 dollar paycheck.
300 bucks a week that they're stretching over the course of two weeks.
What can you tell them you know if you could tell them one -- here's what would solve your problem and get you back to a better pay scale what would it be.
Well two things first fully guarantee that they will always -- there will be made whole.
We will pay them but.
We are working at it now so that that makes next paycheck so hopefully that'll be a full paycheck for them you know your tax revenues come in unevenly.
And we're concentrated on that to make that happen no wants to do this -- -- but as I said before.
We're left for this deficit has result not only -- When you run a city government are you paying salaries but I have to have gas in the police cars and decent in the fire trucks have to pay the landfill so our garbage can be accepted.
I have to pay health care.
And we're trying to make it work and we have a shortfall you're trying to balance it out.
Our employees do -- great job we know we have to pay them and as a mayor I'm trying to make it -- -- and still provide all the services has been varsity.
And make sure that we take care of our employees.
Got a tough job and a place it has had some long term financial lows as so many cities have.
I in this country we're gonna watch your situation.
And we'll see how it all works out mayor -- thank you very much for being -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Thank you --