Wilkes-Barre, May 15, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) awarded the City of Wilkes-Barre a $200,000 Early Intervention Program (“EIP”) grant that will fund Phase-II of the city’s financial feasibility study.
Under the grant, the city administration and PFM Group Consulting, LLC (“PFM”), the city’s financial adviser, will develop enhanced financial reporting, coordinate a collective bargaining strategy, analyze potential deficiencies with the city’s tax collection system, and complete an efficiency study of municipal services programs.
The grant award follows Wilkes-Barre City Council’s approval of a $52 million debt-restructuring package last week, which will alleviate the city’s pending cash flow shortages as healthcare, pension, and other operating expenses continue to increase faster than projected tax revenues.
“We stand as a united Wilkes-Barre today,” said Senator Yudichak. “Mayor George, City Council and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are committed to the long-term fiscal health of the city, the economic growth of our downtown, and the safety of Wilkes-Barre’s neighborhoods.”
“This grant is essential to keeping Wilkes-Barre out of Act 47 and allowing the city to fix the financial issues it faces,” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Wilkes-Barre). “I’m extremely grateful to Governor Tom Wolf for enabling us to continue working toward stable financial ground.”
“We are not satisfied with business-as-usual solutions, but we are committed to restoring Wilkes-Barre’s financial health,” said Mayor Anthony George. “The Early Intervention Program provides a window of opportunity for us to streamline government services, secure long-term employment savings, but still invest in public works projects and provide city services that are envied by other communities in the Wyoming Valley.”
Senator Yudichak thanked DCED’s Center for Local Government Services for their support of the City of Wilkes-Barre as well as Governor Tom Wolf who “remains committed to the continued revitalization of the City of Wilkes-Barre and Northeastern Pennsylvania,” he said.