Mayor cuts cop, firefighter pay to minimum wage

The mayor of Scranton will likely have to buy his own coffee cup too.

The mayor of Scranton will likely have to buy his own coffee cup too.

The Michael Scott style of management must be infectious.

In Scranton, Penn., home of the mythical Dunder Mifflin paper company, the mayor has reduced the pay of all city workers, including his own, to the federal minimum wage — $7.25.

Let’s hope Mayor Chris Doherty doesn’t need a firefighter or cop anytime soon. He’s not likely to receive quality service.

NPR reports Doherty made the move after city council voted to reject a proposed tax hike. Scranton, the sixth largest city in the state, had only $5,000 in the bank and owed $1 million in pay to its 400 or so employees.

There’s no indication in the article that salaries for city workers are out of control — one firefighter said his gross income was $1,500 every two weeks. Now his check is for $600 after deductions. He’s probably pawning the fire station’s Dalmation to pay his mortgage.

Employees are suing. Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse issued an injunction but the mayor ordered the city issue paychecks based on the minimum wage.

A protracted legal battle is just what a city with a $16 million budget shortfall needs.

I’ve not looked closely at Scranton’s budget woes, but why didn’t the mayor do the American thing and simply declare bankruptcy?

After all, what’s good for General Motors is good for America … and maybe Scranton.

43 comments Add your comment


July 10th, 2012
9:03 am

WOW! I bet he has loads in his bank account already and perhaps own several businesses where he doesnt need his paycheck. You just hurt the ones that live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford to lose 5 cents on a single check. Now the City will not declare bankruptcy, but its other 399 employees (minus the mayor) will be declaring bankruptcy soon! Talk about stress and lowered morale on job—guess I better fill my buckets with water and arm myself, because I will get minimum wage service for sure!

A. E.

July 10th, 2012
9:54 am

This is easy. Your wage is cut to minimum wage, then you work like minimum wage…do the bare minimum. Show up at the station…do nothing. Sit in the police car…do nothing….at all. People will stop trying to screw you if you stop bending over.


July 10th, 2012
10:02 am

Seems like a case of too much outflow (expesnes) and not enough inflow (revenue / taxes) …… maybe layoff some employees ….. stop using paperclips and staples …. etc


July 10th, 2012
10:12 am

One sure thing here, the cops may work for starvation wages but they won’t be starving. Still get those Duncan Donuts gratis! ! ! !


July 10th, 2012
10:16 am

City Council should have increased the taxes. Just like the Mayor of Atlanta need to increase our taxes. This is a shame…how do he expect his employees to survive? That is just wrong how he dropped all of his employees pay to min. wage. Wrong, just wrong…all because he wanted to have his way. He is acting like an irresponsible child!

Tanya Harris

July 10th, 2012
10:33 am

How in the world can you expect someone to lay their lives down on a daily basis protecting a city that’s not paying him/her enough to feed their families? That’s cold! Be mindful of who you’re voting for.


July 10th, 2012
10:43 am

Time to strike


July 10th, 2012
10:47 am

If their cops are anything like ours, they’re already overpaid!


July 10th, 2012
10:59 am

you folks are amazing, with very little information you betray your ignorance, idid you all know Scranton has a local income tax? I bet you did not, its 2.4%, they also increased the rate used to calculate property taxes. I bet Scranton (a steel town) like many other areas except Washington DC area, saw property values drop. Now since most Americans’ wealth is tied up in their houses I bet Scranton residents are not looking forward to paying more property taxes especially since the unemployment rate in Scranton in May is 8.7%. Finally, over 55% of the budget is for fire/police. I know those are critical areas but if your company was experiencing lower earnings, would you expect them to cut costs or raise prices? I guess that is the problem with government, when revenue drops they raise taxes (prices) not cut costs.


July 10th, 2012
11:02 am

Really Michelle? do you have any idea what those “overpaid” people do for a living? Do you make more than minimum wage sitting at your desk? Is anyone shooting at you? Is your family worried if you’ll make it home night after night? before you run your mouth you best be aware of what those who work in civil service actually do. GOD help you if you need the police or fire dept to help you in your time of need.


July 10th, 2012
11:04 am

To Michelle @ 10:47 – If the Mayor is anything like you, I can see why he made such an idiotic decision.


July 10th, 2012
11:05 am

$5,000 in the bank… payroll to meet. Sounds like the council has waited a bit too long to make changes… perhaps several years too long. I’ll bet it was the prior councils and mayors who made he problem… and they are all either dead, or have moved to Naples. Thi is pretty typical of governments where there is no opposing side to determining wages and benefits based upon revenues… kind of like Wisconsin used to be.

Road Scholar

July 10th, 2012
11:19 am

Michelle: Please give your home address so the police and fire dept. personnel can provide you stellar services. (wink wink)


July 10th, 2012
11:20 am

Marcs – you betray your ignorance. Most cities in the US spend 50% of their budget providing public safety services – Police, Fire and EMS. It may be a little high but it’s also a bigger CIty. As a tax payer you have the right to request less servives which will reduce the budget. However, when your emergency arrises, don’t complain about the time it took, the equipment not working or them not having the appropriate training. Everyon wants to cut the service but they don’t cut their expectation of the service. If you buy a car for $1,500, do you expect it to be like a $15,000 car? Also, Public Safety doesn’t have earnings. They are a cost center unless you bill for EMS services which will never fully fund an EMS or Fire Department but it does help. You are the citiznes, cut services but remember that you have to cut your expectations also. I completely empathize with you on reduce home values, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need protecting. I guess it’s the problem of the people, they want cheaper services but delivered at the same level.


July 10th, 2012
11:36 am

To Michelle: Do you know anyone who is a cop here in Atlanta? The cops here in the city of Atlanta have not received a raise in at least 3 years, so do not say they are overpaid. They are actually underpaid compared to most major cities around the United States.


July 10th, 2012
11:37 am


July 10th, 2012
10:47 am

“If their cops are anything like ours, they’re already overpaid!”


@Goosenco 11:02 am

The police are always too late to help most people anyway. People are better off arming themselves against criminals than depending on the police to keep them safe.

Can’t argue with firemen/emt though. Those guys save lives and should be paid like it.

Rick in Grayson

July 10th, 2012
11:59 am

I would have expected more comments on the debt that cities, counties, states, and the nation in general have accumulated over the last 10 years.

Spending is out of control! 47% of US “taxpayers” pay no federal income tax! We have too many low skilled workers already in the US and the government continues to bring in more each month (legally and illegally).

The US already has a debt to gdp ratio that is higher than Greece. Our government policies are not changing and Obama continues to spend money like there is no tomorrow.

What was the Mayor to do…the city council would not RAISE TAXES and there was no funds to pay city employees. If our national government does not wake up and stop spending this scenario will play out across our nation. Scranton, PA is not the only American city on the edge of bankruptcy.


July 10th, 2012
12:10 pm

Teachers at minimum wage is coming soon to a town near you.


July 10th, 2012
12:23 pm

These people who complain and groan about taxes need to realize that without taxes we have no future. This country is falling apart because the RepubliKLANs refuse to pay in for what it takes to keep the wheels turning. Taxes are a necessary part of our democracy if we are to have schools, teachers, supplies, roads, bridges, firemen, policemen, EMT’s, etc. I tell ya what: why don’t we break our society into two groups. Group one will continue to pay taxes, more if needed, and we’ll benefit from schools, teachers, good roads, safe bridges, policemen, firemen and EMT’s in our time of need. Group two can eliminate their taxes and find their own teachers, build their own schools, pave their own roads and fill those potholes, ensure bridges are safe to cross, and by god they better learn CPR for when Dad drops from a stroke or heart attack cuz there won’t be any emergency medical people there to assist!


July 10th, 2012
12:23 pm tells it all. Spend about 2 years reading all the posts of corruption and you will have an idea what it is like to live there.

Free market solution

July 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

While I would certainly rather see him fire everyone and declare bankruptcy like Stockton California did, this issue brings to light some very important issues.

75+% of american cities get by quite effectively with only volunteer fire departments. Those with paid folks are generally swimming in a sea of debt caused by overbloated salaries and pension plans negotiated by union bosses. Maybe Scranton needs to explore a more cost effective alternative.

Most importantly however, there are clearly some services that residents would be happy to pay for. No doubt fire fighting/prevention would be on a list. A service related to safety, crime prevention, crime investigation, etc. might also be on a list. Removal of waste, clean drinking water and a few others might also make the list.

Is that what Scranton is currently paying for? Do the police really keep people safe, or are they busy arresting non-violent drug offenders, gamblers, prostitutes, and other victimless criminals? Are they busy enforcing arbitrary speeding laws, red light cameras, and other sources of revenue that have dubious connections with safety? Has the police force become little more than the local gestapo with tanks, automatic weapons and the like all provided with help from the Feds?

Every service the government performs could be provided by a private group/company in a free, open, and competitive market likely in a superior manner and with a lower cost. More importantly, if they had to actually EARN the money in the marketplace, rather than stealing it through taxation, their incentive would be to serve their customers rather than treating them as government employees do (poorly at best).

The collapse and bankruptcy of governments accross the nation and around the world is a great thing for those who value freedom and liberty. We have accepted the notion that what is illegal to do as an individual is ok to do if done by government and it has cost us dearly in our freedoms and our lives. The sooner everyone is forced to create a new system of cooperative voluntary exchange instead of using the force of the government gun to get things running again, the sooner we can all benefit from the prosperity that ONLY the free market has ever been able to deliver.


July 10th, 2012
12:41 pm

@Michelle, How can you say that the police or firefighters are overpaid when they are out there trying to keep the citizens safe? Granted there are some bad cops but the majority of them are good and honest people trying to uphold the law. If anything they are underpaid and overworked. Why don’t you join the force if you think they are overpaid then you can get one of those big checks.


July 10th, 2012
12:45 pm

@Free Market Solution:
You bemoan the police officers writing tickets and generating revenue in one breath. In the next breath, you want to turn it over to a private company that has to make a profit to survive. Do you not see the irony there?

A private company would likely be paid based on similar metrics… arrests, ticket-writing, etc. There would only be MORE motivation to do such things under a private company.


Call the Fire Department and report a shooting or other injury from any type of violence related crime… See who shows up first. The Fire Department guys aren’t coming to help you until the police get there to make sure they are safe.


July 10th, 2012
12:52 pm

Loganville you are absolutely correct. Free Market talks out of both sides of his mouth. Chasing the almight dollar is what people like Free Market are all about. Volunteer firefighters? Yep. I can CLEARLY see this working in New York, Chicago, L.A. Miami. Unless one is living in Hootersville in a Green Acres environment, this is the ONLY situation volunteer fire depts work! Small towns.


July 10th, 2012
12:56 pm

Furthermore, no one but people with connections, wealth and power benefit from free markets these days. The working class is dwindling because we lack the resources to play on a level field with the big dawgs who receive help and insider information from their cronie rich friends. By design to keep themselves rich and in power. Free market worked 30 years ago. Fast forward and everyday there are new reports of corrupt rich people who steal from their clients and their companies through fabricated financial reports and ponzi schemes.


July 10th, 2012
12:58 pm

Even Mitt Robme is hiding his assets in offshore accounts in Bermuda, Cayman and Switzerland. And THIS is the guy the right thinks is going to save them and put their best interests before his own? They look at him as if his name were “Messiah” and he’s the second coming. They conveniently forget he’s Mormon and rejects the teachings of Jesus Christ.


July 10th, 2012
1:39 pm

Puck the folice, puck the folice, puck em!


July 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

It seems like a recipe for Police and city worker corruption. Selling drugs in uniform, robbing dealers, being bought for illegal activity. Built in excuse, I had to survive. olice officers are hard wired with agression many times anyway so I think this Mayor has no iea what he is cokking up.


July 10th, 2012
2:26 pm

The only difference between Scranton and the United States government is that the latter can create an unlimited number of dollars out of thin air. But watch out, when the ‘quantitative easing’ thing completely runs out of gas it’s gonna be ugly.


July 10th, 2012
3:02 pm

BOOM….. Michelle! Yea that’s right! I boomed ya!


July 10th, 2012
4:40 pm

whats “Good” for General Motors? Are you effing serious?! As I recall they took our hard earned money and saved the backsides of one of the sorriest run companies in the country today. And for what? Because they were “Too big to fail” ? Bullcrap. And what do we get because of it? Cars that blow up and catch fire (A la Volt and Cruz, wtg gov’t motors) And describing Declaring bankruptcy as an “American” thing to do makes me sick to my stomach and you should be ashamed of yourself for implying it. If this salary imposition on the cities employees isnt enough for them then they should by all means quit. Its their right to do so. And when the city’s lost its police force and firefighters over it then they can act accordingly. until then I fail to see the problem with what the Mayor did.


July 10th, 2012
4:53 pm

Michelle you are an idiot. Police, Fireman and our Military risk their lives every day for chump change.People like you sit back and prosper off their hard work. You make me sick to my stomach.I lost a real good friend; who gave his life to Serve and Protect. He was dam good man and had a wife and kids. He knew that most people were you and could give a dam about his safety. My friend did the job anyway and it cost him his life. Honor, respect ,morals and empathy these were some of the characteristics that drove him.


July 10th, 2012
5:56 pm



July 10th, 2012
6:01 pm

I don’t get it, they only have 5,000$ in the plus column, and owe over 1,000,000$. On top of that they have to pay400 city employees 3,000$ a month to be modest. thats 1,200,000$ they are spending every month at least. If they cant afford to pay the cops and fire fighters then they cant afford to pay them. seems simple to me, why are you all getting angry at this mayor? should they stop sending kids to public schools, and stop all road improvements? If you don’t have money you can’t give it away.


July 10th, 2012
6:17 pm

I can’t believe all the selfish people posting on this story. The mayor did what he HAD to do!!! What do you want him to do, write everyone a rubber check? We as a country HAVE to learn to spend within our means, PERIOD. Scranton is rapidly heading to bankruptcy, like Stockton CA did last week. Is that what you self-centered spoiled brats want? As long as you get yours, to hell with the rest, right? Well, to hell with you people! You deserve a broke government.


July 10th, 2012
6:22 pm

Ollie… I’ll bet you do everything you can to lower your taxes… don’t you? You’re just another DemocRAT hypocrite, you want everyone else to pay more while you pay less.


July 10th, 2012
7:59 pm

Scranton Pa. population — 76,000. I’m sorry but that many people in one city generates a ton of money. Somebody’s either mis-managing the cash or stealing it !


July 10th, 2012
8:48 pm

@RC…whatever dude….I make right at $100K and pay a 28% tax rate with no loopholes. And I’ll be happy to pay more so my kid has a good school, good teachers and policemen to run off the drug dealers running amok all around us. So STFU!! Go lick yours you idiot RepubliKLAN! You right-wing nuts think Dems are stupid and buying into your Armegeddon philosophies about taxes. I’m still standing and I’m pretty sure I pay more than you.


July 11th, 2012
11:58 am

Yeah, thanks for the tea party & the GOP. This is want they aim for. Lets cut government to the bone. God forbid we ask a little more in taxes from the wealthly.
I see fireman moving or seeking employment doing something else. Good luck finding anyone to replace them with this dreaful pay.


July 11th, 2012
1:29 pm

Will all of the complainers please propose a budget for the city. When they have completed the budget
take it to city hall and have the city council vote on it. None of the proposed budgets will make it because the person preparing the budget cannot match the income with the expenses without
increasing revenue (tax increase) or cutting expenses, (reducing salaries). In order to solve the financial problems of cities, counties, and the Federal Government, logic and not lip service must be applied.

Booze Hound

July 11th, 2012
3:10 pm

Cut their pay to minimum wage? Just fire the majority of those police and fire department bums! Let them go home and watch “reality” shows and ball games on their tee-veez…


July 13th, 2012
8:46 pm

Remember when all the firefighters, cops, teachers, nurses, and other municipal employees crashed the economy, accepted millions in bailouts and bonuses? No? Me either.


July 14th, 2012
8:51 pm

the trickle down must be stuck some where