This letter is an urgent appeal to all taxpayers/citizens of Wilkes Barre as well as those non-residents who care about the future of our fair city to attend the state department of Community and Economic Development’s public hearing at 5 p.m. Wednesday, regarding Mayor Tony George’s formal application for protection under Act 47.
I myself was shocked and dismayed at the mayor’s action. I believe there was no justification for it, especially in light of the steps taken in the past year – such as the refinancing of a large chunk of the debt burden – that supposedly put the city on more solid financial footing.
What was the mayor thinking, and why did he go forward with minimal, token consultation or advice, so arbitrarily and abruptly? Though these questions may never be answered. We taxpayers who are going to bear the brunt of all belt-tightening, draconian measures imposed by the state if the city is accepted into the program, have every right to search for answers and stave off raising the white flag until all options for enhancing the city’s fiscal situation has been exhausted.
These measures include but are not limited to property and wage tax increases and privatizing assets such as sewers and parking facilities and can only exacerbate the downward spiral of our city resulting in more urban blight and economic hardship for struggling families and people on fixed incomes. Is this what we really want for our community?
I really am not concerned with how other communities such as Scranton and Nanticoke have fared under this program. Wilkes-Barre is a unique city with its own particular problems that offer no easy solutions. Let all of us who, by the way, did not cause this fiscal crisis but have suffered with bureaucratic efforts to resolve it over the past several years get involved, offer input, and brainstorm to avert this drastic “state takeover” and allow Wilkes-Barre the chance it deserves for recovering on its own.