Aug. 28--SHAMOKIN -- The check was in the mail. It's now bound for the bank.
A $1,163,500 check from the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) was received Wednesday and will be deposited into the city's coffers. It's the total amount loaned through the state's Act 47 program to help municipalities stay out of bankruptcy.
Shamokin was accepted into the state program in June, and with it came the loan. Now begins the process to pay more than $811,000 in unpaid bills from 2013.
"Thank God it came so we can finally pay off all our creditors," Mayor William D. Milbrand said Wednesday. "A lot of the people waiting patiently for the money will now be paid and hopefully we can get a fairly clean record with everybody."
That job is left to city clerk Robert M. Slaby. Hired in April, Slaby wasn't around when the debt accumulated. He'll be the one writing the checks to vendors who have waited about one year to be paid.
"Whatever is left out of this will be what the city uses to get to the end of the year," Slaby said Wednesday.
Milbrand was more cautious about the remaining funds after the debts are paid. It will be used, he said, only as needed. If any remains after year's end, he said he'd ask DCED if it could possibly be applied toward repaying the loan.
Shamokin had been projected to be out of cash by mid-August, according to an Early Intervention Report prepared by the city's financial advising firm, Financial Solutions. Thankfully, for the city's sake, that never came to pass. There was roughly $61,000 in the city's general fund Wednesday. Slaby agreed with Milbrand's comments from earlier this month that the city would likely have enough funds to make it on its own into September.
But the loan has arrived, and so has the relief it provides. That's not to say Shamokin is off the hook. Slaby said careful fiscal management this year kept City Hall in the black, and that will have to continue. Further, a loan isn't a gift. It must be repaid over a 10-year period. Slaby said he believes the first payment will be due in 2015.
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