CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The mayor of Chester pushed back against the state's appointed team who recently said disincorporation was a possibility for the city after being in financial crisis for three years.
The state says the situation is urgent and there's a very real threat that the city could run out of money.
Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland held a news conference at Chester's City Hall Monday, pushing back against the state-appointed receiver assigned to work with the city back in 2020.
"How can anyone be expected to continue to work with a team that even mentions the possibility of dismantling and dividing the city through disincorporation?" said Kirkland.
Last week, the state's team gave a sobering update, saying a solution needs to be reached by the end of the year to avoid the worst-case scenario: disincorporation.
"The city of Chester would cease to exist as a city. It would not have any municipal elected officials, and instead, it would be an unincorporated service district," said Vijay Kapoor, chief of staff of the Chester receivership team, last week.
On Monday the mayor called that suggestion a fear tactic, saying the state's team has not been responsive to other ideas like selling the Chester Water Authority to Aqua.
"The receiver is not appointed to dictate, to take control - total control - to force the city to do things against its best interests," said Kirkland.
In the midst of the financial woes, a waterfront development project is moving forward, with the groundbreaking of a $55 million sports complex next to Subaru Park.
Chester officials say this project is largely funded by sponsors and other entities, and should not be affected by the current financial difficulties.
The mayor says he has inherited financial woes created by previous administrations, and he plans to meet with state lawmakers and the governor to ask for assistance from the state's surplus.
"This mayor and members of council will be visiting Harrisburg to find out how we get our share of that $8 billion that sits in Harrisburg," said Kirkland.
The receiver said Monday his priority is moving the bankruptcy process forward in court so the city can pass a budget for next year.
The state's team says disincorporation is a last resort, and right now there are many unknowns as to what that would look like for the city if that becomes a reality.
Receiver Michael Doweary released this statement on Monday:
"The Receiver was crystal clear that disincorporation is a path that he does not want Chester to go down. He raised the concern because Chester is running out of time to find a solution and the inflammatory and false statements made by the Mayor today do not help in the slightest. What keeps us up at night is Chester running out of money, which is very possible as we showed last week. The Receiver will continue to be transparent about Chester's financial situation and will continue to take actions that are in the best interests of Chester's residents."