The city of Scranton has a population that has decreased by fifty percent. Two-thirds of the remaining population live in poverty. The city is filled with boarded up businesses and blighted homes. A weekend in Scranton features empty streets, a lack of nightlife, and general malaise. Homelessness is rampant and signs of poverty are everywhere. One landlord told me his policy is to only rent to college students because Scranton is “just horrible”. Doing real estate in Scranton is jarring when you come face to face with the amount of poverty in this city.
What Scranton used to be
The city used to be a gorgeous place that had the combination of a vibrant downtown and small town community feel. The people talk about the shops that used to exist and how the area was economically thriving. I could think of Scranton of the past but I end up seeing a completely different city. Many Scrantonians have left, never to return. Those who have stayed are constantly dealing with the question of why it is worth staying in Scranton. The constant complaint is that taxes and fees are far too high in Scranton. It has made Scranton a very depressing place to live. In fact, many Scrantonians believe that the only reason people stay in Scranton is because they cannot leave.
Turning the page
The reason the city should declare bankruptcy is because it will give the city a fresh start. The legacy payments that the city currently owes will never be paid off. It would be far better to take the losses and lower taxes in order to invite businesses to the area. The amount of development that could transpire would be enough to shore up any gaps in the budget. The tax base would widen and there would be enough to go around for everyone. Scranton is currently trying to do what Detroit tried to do and failed. There was no chance for Detroit to lift itself out of debt through taxation. Scranton is in the very same predicament and yet believes it can do what bigger cities have failed to accomplish. Bankruptcy allowed Detroit an opportunity to make its city competitive again, and now its downtown area is striving.
A new beginning
The city needs to have a new beginning. The old status quo has failed to produce results. The city needs to lower fees on the residents and let the private sector thrive. This will be the remedy the city needs to have: high-paying jobs and more business development. This cannot happen while the government nickels and dimes business owners to pay for debts that can never be fully paid off. The city should have filed bankruptcy a long time ago. The idea that it should keep going because things will get worse is preposterous. The city cannot get any worse than it already is. The government Scranton needs is one with lower fees and taxes. The city needs to give room to the private sector and needs to stop relying on federal government subsidies to run on a daily basis.