CHESTER — Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland has said bankruptcy is not the way to go.
“I don’t agree with bankruptcy,” said the mayor of the town of 34,000 that has been in state receivership since 2020 and under financial guardianship since 1995.
He expressed concern for long-serving employees and attracting talent.
“We have people who have worked here for over 40 years,” Kirkland said. “To say that we go bankrupt (and they) won’t get health care benefits and pension, that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Furthermore, he said that filling vacancies would become more difficult if the bankruptcy was continued.
“It’s hard to bring in the talent you need to run a city when these kinds of conversations are going on,” he said.
On Tuesday, wide receiver Michael T. Doweary said he is looking at bankruptcy as a way to steer the city back to a solid financial footing in light of a looming $46.5 million deficit expected next year.
“The receiver agrees that the options are severe, but the city should never have gotten to the point where these kinds of options need to be seriously considered,” Doweary’s office said Friday. “Leaders have a responsibility to be transparent and to take tough action so issues don’t get pushed down the road. Chester’s issues existed before COVID hit. The Receiver remains open to suggestions that genuinely fix the finances of Chester by ensuring that recurring revenues cover recurring expenses and that provide vital and necessary services.
The mayor said this step was not necessary.
“I think we can do well without going bankrupt,” Kirkland said.