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Editor’s note: How very sad that the capital city of this great Commonwealth has deteriorated to this extent!
The Patriot-News Editorial Board met Thursday with City Controller Dan Miller, Council President Wanda Williams and City Treasurer John Campbell. Below is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q: Where do things stand in the city now?
Dan Miller: We’re going into bankruptcy. The question is will we have the assets or won’t we have the assets [when we do]. Just because we adopt a plan, that’s not going to solve the problem. I think [receiver] David Unkovic knows the same thing.
Wanda Williams: I had an opportunity to talk to Jefferson County, Ala., officials last weekend. They tried to derive a plan there similar to Unkovic’s, but the people were up in arms and they said no, we are not going to allow you to sell our assets. What you’re going to do is sell our assets and we’re going to be left with nothing, and we’ve been telling Unkovic that. Where do you derive the revenue from after you sell all our assets? Now Jefferson County has filed bankruptcy, and the judge is making that determination. Their assets are safe for the time being. I see this as a ploy — Gov. Corbett has asked [Unkovic] to come in and do a plan, but in the interim, we’re going to be selling assets and filing for bankruptcy.
Q: How significant was the city’s general obligation default on March 15?
Miller: I suspect we’re not paying any more debt for the rest of the year. I’m not the decision maker, but if you’re not going to pay it now, you’re not going to pay it anymore. Unkovic is projecting a $9.5 million deficit. I’m calculating $15 million. We’re both acknowledging it’s a big deficit for this year. Our general debt service is about $11 million a year. Even if you sell the assets, it’s not going to impact the budget. We’re out of money.