SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Scranton’s new mayor has been in office for seven weeks.
Paige Cognetti says she continues to work with different departments all while being transparent and open to the community. Mayor Cognetti held a press conference Thursday to highlight what her office is doing and what their priorities are.
“I love being accessible and love being out there in the community,” Cognetti said.
Cognetti has spent a lot of her first days in office connecting with each department in the city. In the seven weeks since she took the oath of office she is seeing what needs to be done to improve Scranton.
“The underlining goal that we do is to make sure that we are serving the citizens of Scranton at every turn,” Cognetti said.
The mayor began her term fighting a battle she inherited by hiring a law firm to handle a lawsuit against the city for overtaxing residents $10 million from 2015-2019. A judge ruled against the city, ordering them to put $50 million into an escrow to use in future budgets. The city had no option but to appeal.
“Having to gut my budget because of the Act 511 lawsuit, that would, you know, really hinder our abilities to move forward,” Cognetti said.
Moving forward on improving technology, look at the tax structure, infrastructure, eliminating cash payments in city departments, working on ethics policy and building trust.
“So we’re really having to peel back every layer of the onion and starting to look at those things,” Cognetti said.
The city is also preparing for the coronavirus. Acting fire chief Al Lucas has been working with county EMA and local hospitals in case the city is affected.
“We may get hit here at the fire department, police department, city hall workers, and we have to be prepared for a mass sick out outage if it were to hit here directly,” Lucas said.
The city isn’t trying to scare anyone. They are preparing now in case the coronavirus makes its way to the Electric City. As of now, there are no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania. As far as Mayor Cognetti, she tells Eyewitness News it’s going to take time to get those priorities accomplished.
This Saturday Mayor Cognetti is hosting a Mayor’s Day of Action. The event will kick off the 2020 census by recruiting, training, and mobilize census ambassadors. They want to educate friends and family about responding to the 2020 census, which enables Scranton to receive federal funding.
Mayor’s Day of Action begins at 10 a.m. at 343 N. Washington Avenue. Volunteers can sign up on the Mayor of Scranton Facebook page or by calling 570-348-4101.