Scranton, Lackawanna County - For the first time since a controversial commuter tax was shot-down by a panel of judges, Scranton city council held a public meeting Thursday night.
While the commuter tax issue was not on the agenda, it was on the minds of taxpayers.
The meeting began shortly after 6:00 PM. That is the new meeting time for 2013. Council meetings previously began at 6:30 PM.
While the city has been in the news for money issues over the last year, there was one bit of good news at Thursday's meeting.
City council accepted a donation from the Covenant Presbyterian Church, a non-profit organization. The church has donated $1,000 to city coffers for the year 2012.
While the money may not seem like a lot, most non-profits don't make any monetary donations to the city.
"We do it because we never hesitate to call the policemen, call the fire department. In the middle of the night, if our alarm system goes off, a policeman meets me here," church administrator Norma Gabriel said. "We just feel that it's our obligation because we use the city services."
PILOTS, or payments in leiu of taxes, were a big topic in 2012 in Scranton. There is no doubt that will continue into 2013.
On the streets, taxpayers think there should be some giving, whether its from churches or universities, but there also needs to be fiscal discipline in the city itself.
"The city government has got to take responsibility. There's outrageous spending," Charles Quince of Scranton said. "You've got to have some responsibility to start in house rather than outside."
In its original 2013 spending plan, Scranton city leaders budgeted more than $1 million for PILOTS but last month in court told a panel of judges that they had secured no donations at all.
Covenant Presbyterian Church officials say they've been one of the places that has given over the years and they hope it catches on.
"I really feel that everyone who's non-profit who uses any city services should be paying something," Gabriel said.