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Council suggests privatization of two departments

SCRANTON – City Council voiced several suggestions to fill the looming hole in 2011 budget on Tuesday, including the privatization of the Scranton Sewer Authority and the Department of Public Works.

Council’s Finance Chairman Frank Joyce said at previous meetings that he believes up to $11.3 million has already been misspent in the 2011 budget.

The council majority has said often in recent weeks that they would not be in favor of the rumored summer layoffs of police, fire, clerical and DPW workers, nor would they support the borrowing of additional money.

Council Vice President Pat Rogan said he would be willing to discuss the deficit with Mayor Chris Doherty but would not even negotiate these suggestions if brought up.

With the better enforcement of rental registration and implementation of the StreetSmart parking meter program delayed, Rogan suggested other sources of revenue for the city.

“I have talked to many people in the business community over the last month, and they believe that the sale of the Sewer Authority would bring in nearly $50 million, and that’s a low estimate. With the $50 million brought in, we can close the budget gap as well as instituting a city-wide paving program. The majority of the streets in the city will finally be paved once and for all,” Rogan said.

He believes the authority is rife with nepotism and that their costs to the city have only gone up over the years. He also proposed the privatization of the DPW.

“The refuse portion of the DPW can be done easily by the private sector. Unlike police and fire work which should not be done by the private sector, garbage collection can. It is in many other towns and many other cities,” Rogan said.

At the very least, he added, the city should conduct an efficiency survey of the DPW. He feels that garbage collection could be done in four days each week, leaving the fifth day for fixing potholes and other roadwork.

Council President Janet Evans said she also favors the privatization of the Scranton Sewer Authority, as well as the refinancing the city’s debt and the sale or lease of the city’s parking garages after 60 days notice to the Scranton Parking Authority.

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