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Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Scranton Officials Improperly Doubled Pension Payments To City Workers

Lindsay Lazarski
Scranton has one of the most distressed pension funds in the state. A new report shows that improper procedures in offering double pension benefits to some retirees contributed to the poor state of the non-uniform fund.

Scranton’s double-pension payments – offered as a retirement incentive to 35 city workers – were improperly implemented, and cost the city $2.9 million in unapproved costs.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report this morning which found “the transactions surrounding the doubling of pension payments revealed a disregard for the applicable laws governing pension plans by the officials charged with fiduciary responsibility for the Plan – the Mayor, City Council, and the Pension Board.”

Then Mayor Chris Doherty left office in 2014. The Auditor General’s office didn’t immediately respond if any Council or Board members from that time are still in office.   

Scranton offered 25 non-uniform employees double-pensions in 2002 in an attempt to address the city’s budget. The city is in Act 47 – Pennsylvania’s distressed cities program – and wanted to eliminate jobs as part of its recovery plan. In 2007, after a lawsuit, an additional 10 city employees were deemed eligible for the 2002 incentive and granted double-pensions.