Saturday, January 10, 2009

Only in Scranton

According to the Scranton Times, Scranton City Council is considering giving themselves a raise. Not stopping there, they also think the Mayor, Controller, and Deputy Controller all deserve a raise as well. And no, they are not taking the money from their newly created and very controversial “Assistant Zoning Officer” to pay for it.

In truth, there is little clarity on where the money will come from because Scranton’s City Council’s agenda is conspicuously incomplete. The agenda states that the Deputy City Controller will get what appears to be a retroactive raise of $4,814 beginning January 1st by raiding the City’s contingency account. It states that the Controller, Council, and Mayor will all get raises but fails to disclose how much or where the money will be taken from.

Democrat Councilman and Doherty supporter Robert McGoff is quoted by the Scranton Times saying “If people are opposed to it, so be it.”

This lack of concern is appalling. In the private sector, you are rewarded for profitable work by seeing your wages increased. None in Scranton’s government can make that claim. Scranton’s borrowing is out of control, it is still considered a distressed city under Act 47, and despite some effort on the part of its mayor, businesses are not exactly running to open in Scranton.

As a matter of fact, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued new labor statistics. The Times Leader reports that unemployment rates have now jumped to 7.2% in December of 2008. Scranton’s rate in November of 2008 was 6.6% according to the DOL. If you look at this rate for the Scranton area from the historical perspective you will find that recent performance has been terrible in comparison.

Below are the annual rates provided by the Bureau of Labor for Scranton over the last 10 years:
2007 4.9%
2006 5.2%
2005 5.6%
2004 6.4%
2003 6.2%
2002 6.3%
2001 5.5%
2000 4.9%
1999 5.6%
1998 6.2%

Instead of filling their own pockets, Scranton’s government needs to start getting serious about improving the economy in the city. Then, and only then, should they consider increasing their wages for their profitable work.

Lastly, the suggestion that the Controller and Deputy Controller should receive a raise is the most ludicrous of all. We covered Scranton’s pattern of skirting the law and avoiding performance of timely audits. Scranton’s law requires the Controller to submit the previous year’s audit to Council prior to the first Monday in April of each year. The law can be found here.

The Controller’s office has demonstrated that they either posses an utter disregard for Scranton’s statutes regarding audits or an utter inability to get the job done. Scranton is a distressed municipality. They should be able to give a fair and accurate accounting of their finances at all times, not just at the end of the year. For years these audits have been done late. This is a serious matter that has been consistently fumbled by the Controller’s office. That office does not deserve a raise, they deserve to be fired.

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