NANTICOKE — Next stop, no more distress?
That seems to be the path ahead for Nanticoke, after a hearing Monday night at which state officials said they would recommend the city’s “financially distressed” label, declared in 2006, be removed.
Should the state accept the recommendation — as officials have said seems likely to take place — Nanticoke will be the state’s first city to achieve that goal.
While only a handful of residents attended the hearing at City Hall, and none spoke, municipal leaders reiterated that Nanticoke’s improving finances over the past decade have made the end of distress possible.
And that’s no small feat, said city manager Andrew Gegaris, who credited the hard work of residents, administration and state officials in making financial recovery possible.
In the early 2000s, Nanticoke had defaulted on tax anticipation notes in 2001 and 2003, experienced recurring deficits in excess of 1 percent in each year from 2001 through 2005 and was levying a real estate tax of the maximum permitted millage at 30 mills.
Addressing hearing attendees, Joe Boyle, senior research assistant with the Pennsylvania Economy League — Nanticoke’s state-appointed recovery coordinator, said the city’s compliance with the state’s recovery plan for the last nine years has earned it the right to resume fiscal self determination.
Boyle said his review of the city’s status also included projections of revenue and expenditures through 2020.
He cited that city’s Home Rule Charter, ability to collect real estate, real estate transfer and earned income taxes as reasons for confidence in the city’s ability to avoid future deficits.
He also referred to a county wide reassessment which became effective in 2009 helping local finances.
“There is now a consistent stream of revenue available,” said Boyle, “the city now needs to move forward, remaining vigilant in effectuating strategies of fiscal responsibility.”
The city’s 2015 is balanced with revenue and expenditures of $5.4 million.
Gegaris said the request by the city to be removed from distressed status is a reflection both current and previous administrations committed to economic recovery even if that meant making hard decisions.
He said the city was committed to insuring that circumstances that surrounded the original designation would not reassert themselves.
“We are keenly aware of future work that needs to be done,” he said.
[“source – timesleader.com”]