1                  SCRANTON CITY COUNCIL MEETING


            2                       PUBLIC HEARING




            4        IN RE: FILE OF COUNCIL NO. 49, 2008 -






            7   OF JANUARY 2009 TO AND INCLUDING DECEMBER 31, 2009 BY




            9   THE YEAR 2009.




           11                       HELD:




           13                 Tuesday, November 25, 2008




           15                        LOCATION:


           16                    Council Chambers


           17                 Scranton City Hall


           18              340 North Washington Avenue


           19                Scranton, Pennsylvania








           23              CATHENE S. NARDOZZI- COURT REPORTER






















            7   MS. JANET E. EVANS (Not present)




            9   MS. SHERRY FANUCCI




           11   MR. WILLIAM COURTRIGHT




           13   MS. KAY GARVEY, CITY CLERK








           17   MR. AMIL MINORA, SOLICITOR






















            1                      MR. MCGOFF:  I'd like to call this


            2              public hearing to order.  Roll call, please?


            3                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mrs. Evans.


            4                      (Mrs. Evans not present.)


            5                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mrs. Gatelli.


            6                      MS. GATELLI.  Here.


            7                      MR. COOLICAN:  Ms. Fanucci.


            8                      (Ms. Fanucci not present.)


            9                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mr. Courtright.


           10                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Here.


           11                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mr. McGoff.


           12                      MR. MCGOFF: Notice is hereby given


           13              that a public hearing of Scranton City


           14              Council will be held on Tuesday,


           15              November 25, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in council


           16              chambers.  The purpose of said public


           17              hearing is to hear testimony and discuss the


           18              following:  FILE OF COUNCIL NO. 49, 2008 -






           21              THE FIRST DAY OF JANUARY 2009 TO AND


           22              INCLUDING DECEMBER 31, 2009 BY THE ADOPTION




           24              YEAR 2009.


           25                      I would ask that before the meeting






            1              that we could limit comments to three


            2              minutes per speaker and if time allows


            3              people, if there is still time that people


            4              may speak a second time after the listed


            5              speakers are finished.  First, Andy


            6              Sbaraglia.


            7                      MR. SBARAGLIA: Andy Sbaraglia,


            8              citizen of Scranton, fellow Scrantonian.


            9              This budget is 78 pages, that's a lot to cut


           10              down to three minutes, but I'll have to go


           11              page by page, which I would have gone a lot


           12              further, but since you limit us so we go.


           13              Let's go with page 12, the local service


           14              tax, that's the $52 one.  I assume people


           15              are now realizing they only make $12,000 and


           16              no longer have to pay this tax because it's


           17              decreased 22 percent.  I assume that's the


           18              reason for it, at least I hope that's the


           19              reason for it.


           20                      Let's continue on, page 16, Junkyard


           21              license we went from $6,901 to $667.00,


           22              minus 90 percent, does that mean that we


           23              have less junkyards in Scranton I assume or


           24              has something changed that we don't know


           25              about.  That's hard to say.






            1                      Let's look at the pinball machine


            2              permits.  In 2008 we had 6,400 and some and


            3              as you know this is only for the nine months


            4              and now we have only 1,000.  That's an


            5              85 percent drop again.


            6                      Let's continue on.  Of course,


            7              amusement rides, I guess that would probably


            8              effect Nay Aug the most, but we have a


            9              51 percent reduction in that.


           10                      Page 20, they took out the actual


           11              recycling and put it somewhere else, I don't


           12              know, but it's off of that with a little


           13              note underneath it saying the city still


           14              receives Act 101 Recycling grants, since the


           15              grant has certain restrictions the city


           16              shall raise the funds out of operation's


           17              account into a special city account.  I


           18              don't know why if -- that wasn't done in


           19              2008, too?  I must have missed that or is


           20              that just done this coming year?


           21                      Well, let's keep going, three


           22              minutes you got a lot of pages to go


           23              through.  Twenty-four, cable TV revenue.


           24              They called for $780,000 in revenue when you


           25              I believe were given 24 percent -- a quarter






            1              of that does the cable, Electric City


            2              Cable -- that's what I mean.


            3                      (During Mr. Quinn speaking Ms.


            4              Fanucci enters council chambers.)


            5                      MR. QUINN:  Ozzie Quinn, Taxpayers'


            6              Association.  What bothers me is the fact


            7              that it's been reported that this is a


            8              balanced budget.  Now, I don't know how it


            9              can be balanced when we had to borrow money


           10              in order to pay off that debt, you know what


           11              I mean?  It's like myself, if I have a


           12              budget and I want to rent an apartment and


           13              it's $500 and the budget says $400 I can't


           14              rent that apartment, but somebody -- if I


           15              borrow $100 then I can rent that apartment,


           16              you know?  I wouldn't call my budget


           17              balanced, you know?  This is just a play on


           18              words, there is no doubt about it.  In other


           19              words, we are increasing our debt and when


           20              you increase your debt you are not balancing


           21              your budget.  It's ashame, okay, that this


           22              man has come up with this facade that he is


           23              balancing the budget.


           24                      The other thing is in I went over to


           25              the County Assessor's Office and you know we






            1              need revenue, there is no doubt about it,


            2              and taxes, our taxes are a source of


            3              revenue.  At least they say that now we are


            4              getting a windfall from the wage tax, that's


            5              revenue.  Property taxes, wage taxes,


            6              mercantile taxes, this is what the heart of


            7              the budget is.  Now, the fact is I went over


            8              to the assessor's office and I was able to


            9              look up these tax exempt properties and in


           10              the city there is 1,221 tax exempt parcels


           11              of land, 498 or 41 percent are owned by the


           12              city.  Now, you know, what are they doing


           13              laying out there?  That's Mr. Doherty's


           14              program of getting that blight, clearing


           15              that blight, so what does it do?  It's not


           16              tax producing?  The fact is it's not.


           17                      I counted 155 nonprofits in the


           18              city, you know, it's difficult to count them


           19              the nonprofits because sometimes the


           20              churches are different denominations and you


           21              don't know if they are the same


           22              denominations or not, but you know, what he


           23              is doing is he by saying he is a removing


           24              blight by taking these houses and these


           25              properties and whatnot, he is taking them






            1              off the tax rolls and it's just adding up


            2              and adding up and if you take it off the tax


            3              rolls you are taken the revenue away and


            4              there only a few of us left in the city that


            5              are property owners are going to have to pay


            6              for, you know, the tax bills and it's just


            7              won't work, so I just hope that, you know,


            8              that they do something about, you know, the


            9              fact that they face up to the this issue and


           10              try to start sell some of this land.  Some


           11              of this land actually might be Nay Aug or


           12              something like that or in a flood zone, but


           13              a lot of it is not.  Thank you.


           14                      MR. MCGOFF: Mr. Spindler?


           15                      MR. SPINDLER:  Les Spindler, city


           16              resident and home owner.  Two years ago in


           17              the budget Mayor Doherty wanted to borrow


           18              $44 million.  Last year we had a 25 percent


           19              tax hike and borrow millions, now all of a


           20              sudden this year this is no tax hike, no


           21              borrowing, while the rest of the country is


           22              struggling Scranton all of a sudden is doing


           23              terrific, we don't have to borrow any money.


           24              Can you say election year?


           25                      And about the two raises, a raise






            1              for Ray Hayes and a raise for Lisa Moran of


            2              $10,000, first of all, Ray Hayes shouldn't


            3              even have a job.  When Mayor Connors was


            4              mayor PEL wouldn't let him have a public


            5              safety director.  All of a sudden Chris


            6              Doherty can have a public safety director


            7              and he is getting a $10,000 raise?  I have


            8              been on my job for 16 years, in 16 years I


            9              haven't had $10,000 worth of raises.  This


           10              man is getting a $10,000 raise in one year?


           11                   And Lisa Moran, does she deserve a


           12              raise of $10,000?  I don't think so.  She


           13              didn't even know about index cards with


           14              people's social security numbers on them


           15              dumped outside in the alley.  She should


           16              have been responsible for them.  These


           17              people don't deserve $10,000 raises and they


           18              should be taken out of the budget.  That's


           19              all I have.  Thank you.


           20                      MR. MCGOFF: Ms. Schumacher?


           21                      MS. SCHUMACHER: The first item, I


           22              see Mr. Renda is in attendance and I would


           23              like to tell him how much I do appreciate


           24              the fact that he has at least made some


           25              variant explanations without having to go






            1              through every single line item.


            2                      However, using the current year's


            3              base year may be appropriate, but calling it


            4              a historical trend is not appropriate.  One


            5              year's variance is not a historical trend.


            6              We need more information on what


            7              professional services are being procured.


            8                   And regarding the salary adjustments,


            9              the human resource increase should be


           10              disallowed because part of that job


           11              description is the recovery plan


           12              administration and the recovery plan has


           13              expired so that's a decrease in


           14              responsibilities and the salary should


           15              actually be reduced to reflect that.


           16                      And public safety, I say it's a


           17              travesty to continue giving raises to the


           18              administration when the people who are


           19              performing the services, our firefighters


           20              and police, have not received a cost of


           21              living or pay increase for seven consecutive


           22              years.


           23                      There have been operating surpluses


           24              growing for the past four years and the


           25              current year to date, 2004 was 104,253, 2005






            1              was 644,631, and 2006 was $6,710,000, 2007


            2              was $1,446,659 and through October of this


            3              year revenues exceed expenses by $7,174,480.


            4              These surpluses are never reflected in the


            5              operating budget, so please tell me where


            6              they disappear to?


            7                      The tax anticipation notes are


            8              booked as revenue.  Since the anticipated


            9              taxes are also included as revenue, this


           10              appears to be a double booking.  Why are


           11              both shown as revenue?


           12                      Council passed a resolution to bring


           13              OECD back to city hall when their current


           14              lease expires in midyear.  Where is the


           15              $25,000 plus rental income from OECD that


           16              should be booked?


           17                      Why is the one time revenue of


           18              5.5 million from the Single Tax Office


           19              identified as delinquent wage tax?  The wage


           20              tax had to have been paid, the only


           21              delinquency was the Single Tax Office did


           22              not transfer it to the city.


           23                      On the expenses, is ECTV not


           24              receiving a percent of the cable fees in


           25              '09?  I can't find that reflected anyplace,






            1              and the recreation.  Hopefully I will be


            2              back.


            3                      MR. MCGOFF: Mr. Jackowitz.


            4                      MR. JACKOWITZ:  Bill Jackowitz,


            5              South Scranton resident.  Good evening, city


            6              council.  Mr. Renda, thank you for


            7              attending.  The 2009 budget is the best the


            8              mayor has offered, but cuts do need to


            9              occur.  Government and private industries


           10              are cutting every day.  Moms and dads right


           11              here in the City of Scranton are cutting


           12              their home budgets every single day.


           13              Scranton cut theirs, also, but I don't think


           14              they cut it enough.


           15                      You know, we have two major pay


           16              raises in this budget, which has been spoken


           17              about, Lisa Moran's and Ray Hayes, $10,000


           18              raises.  As I was coming here the Scranton


           19              Fire Department and Police Department are


           20              responding to a major accident on 81 North.


           21              The same fire department and police


           22              department that has not had a raise in seven


           23              years.  I don't think Ray Hayes' raise and


           24              Lisa Moran's raise should be approved until


           25              the brave men and woman of the Scranton Fire






            1              Department and the Scranton Police


            2              Department who right now as we speak are out


            3              on 81 North risking their life possibly


            4              saving someone's else's life, please do not


            5              allow that raise.


            6                      MR. MCGOFF: Anyone else?  If anyone


            7              would wish to speak again.


            8                      MR. SBARAGLIA: On 7-E, the last page


            9              I want to just get to that because somebody


           10              else may have some other things to say, is


           11              the debt.  Total interest and debt service


           12              in '09 it's going to be $22,393,017.  That


           13              is almost 1/3 of our budget is now put out


           14              in debt, which is terrible.  Somewhere along


           15              the line it makes know -- because he wants


           16              to build more.  I mean, what are we going to


           17              do with this debt?  It keeps piling up and


           18              he makes no provision in this budget or any


           19              budget to reduce it.  You cannot reduce debt


           20              by borrowing more or changing it and


           21              refinancing and so forth and so on.  It


           22              doesn't make sense.  It never will make


           23              sense because if nothing else you are going


           24              to pay interest on refinancing, you are


           25              going to being paying all costs upfront for






            1              legal fees and whatever.  Well, I'm not


            2              going get too far into it other than the


            3              fact that almost 1/3 of this budget is being


            4              thrown out the window.


            5                      MS. SCHUMACHER: Back again.  The Rec


            6              Department supplies, now we find that the


            7              illegal sale of the Bill Schmidt Sport's


            8              Complex in South Scranton is the Fourth of


            9              July, Italian Festival and First Night


           10              fireworks were paid with complex rentals.


           11              Now that that source has dried up I question


           12              whether we really need fire works at these


           13              events.  Something nice to have, but not a


           14              necessary expense when we are as deep in


           15              debt as we are and our many unfulfilled


           16              promises to neighborhood parks.


           17                      Flood protection maintenance is more


           18              than doubling.  The stated explanation is a


           19              rise in construction costs.  These are


           20              capital expenses and not operating expenses.


           21              Why were they not in the capital budget?


           22                        Does the Shade Tree Commission


           23              remove diseased or dead trees?  If so, why


           24              the '09 decrease when there are so many


           25              trees needing removal?






            1                      The Scranton Redevelopment Authority


            2              recently refinanced the Department of Public


            3              Works Complex.  How is this reflected in the


            4              budget?  Is that the $5,887,002 2005


            5              leaseback in the nondepartmental expenditure


            6              items?  And I guess I'll quit there.  I have


            7              a lot more.  Maybe I'll do more later unless


            8              we have time.


            9                      MR. QUINN:  Thank you.  There is


           10              only one way to slice -- to lower the budget


           11              and that's to slice personnel.  There is no


           12              doubt about it.  I gave you a budget last


           13              week and I bet you don't even know where it


           14              is.  I bet Mr. Courtright looked at it


           15              though, but the fact is that we are loaded


           16              with fat in this budget and you can really


           17              lower and pay off some of that debt that we


           18              are really in.  You know, you hate to lay


           19              off people, you know, nobody wants to lay


           20              off people, but on the other hand, you know,


           21              people can't afford it.  People can't afford


           22              to pay these high salaries and these


           23              benefits, so please consider laying off some


           24              people.


           25                      MR. JACKOWITZ: Bill Jackowitz.  In






            1              regards to the budget, I hope Mr. Renda will


            2              address council or address the public before


            3              he leaves tonight, hopefully he answers some


            4              of the questions that have been raised by


            5              the citizens this evening and I also hope


            6              that city council will also address these.


            7                   We all know that the nation is in


            8              serious dire need.  The City of Scranton has


            9              about in serious dire need for 17 years now


           10              and, quite honestly, nothing has changed.


           11              Now is the opportunity, 2009, is an


           12              opportunity for us to improve things in this


           13              city.  It's an election year, things can


           14              change, people can make good decisions.  The


           15              first decision that needs to be made is the


           16              budget.  The mayor submitted his budget,


           17              Ozzie Quinn submitted a budget, I don't know


           18              if Janet Evans will be submitting a budget,


           19              but I believe it's the responsibility of the


           20              council to review all of the budgets and


           21              look at each and every budget, each and


           22              every line item and decide what is best for


           23              the city, what is best of the taxpayers of


           24              in city because we are the ones who pay the


           25              bills and we have paid the bills religiously






            1              most of us.  The ones who haven't paid the


            2              bills are paying them now, that's why we


            3              have an increase in the wage tax, okay,


            4              because they got frightened by the FBI.


            5                      So, please, all I'm asking council


            6              and Mr. Renda is to look at this budget and


            7              make sure that it's the best budget possible


            8              for all, all citizens and taxpayers of


            9              Scranton.


           10                      MR. SPINDLER: Les Spindler again.


           11              Just one question, Mrs. Gatelli, as finance


           12              chair are you going to submit your own


           13              budget as Mrs. Evans did the last few years?


           14                      MS. GATELLI:  No, I will not be


           15              submitting my own budget.


           16                      MR. SPINDLER: Okay.  Thank you.


           17                      MS. GATELLI: I have been working


           18              with Mr. Renda.


           19                      MS. SCHUMACHER: No, wait.  I'll hold


           20              it for the regular meeting so not to get


           21              behind.


           22                      MR. MCGOFF: We do have time.  I


           23              declare this public hearing closed.












            2                     C E R T I F I C A T E




            4        I hereby certify that the proceedings and


            5   evidence are contained fully and accurately in the


            6   notes of testimony taken by me at the hearing of the


            7   above-captioned matter and that the foregoing is a true


            8   and correct transcript of the same to the best of my


            9   ability.







                                    CATHENE S. NARDOZZI, RPR

           13                       OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER