Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Crunch time for Chester finances

It's crunch time in Chester.

City Council will convene this morning to vote on a budget - and every indication is that taxes will be going up.

The city managed to avert a financial disaster when a deal was reached with Harrah's Casino in the city that will allow revenue form the gambling mecca to continue to flow to both the city and county. For Chester, that adds up to nearly a quarter of the city's budget, a cool $10 million.

But that does not mean the city is out of the woods.

Recent reports painted a dire picture of the city's finances, both in terms of its operating budget and its troubled municipal pension plans.

Back in the summer, a state report suggested drastic action to attack the city's budget problems, including layoffs in both the police and fire departments.

City officials declined to go that route, hoping instead to find new revenue in an increased push to collect overdue taxes and banking on the arrival of a downtown hotel.

The city needs to show progress toward getting out of the 'distressed' status it has been wearing like an anchor around its neck for years or face the possibility of being put into receivership.

We'll begin to find out a bit more about how the city plans to attack its financial woes this morning.

We'll be there to tell you what happens.

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