Federal Judge Weighs in on State Decision to Declare Chester Bankrupt

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in Chester's business district
Image via Alejandro A. Alvarez, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in Chester's business district

The state’s decision to take over the financially-distressed city of Chester was a proper course of action, ruled a federal judge this week over the objections of city government and a major bondholder, writes Anthony R. Wood for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Ashely Chan is a victory for state receiver Michael Doweary who has gone head-to-head with city officials, particularly Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland.

Doweary was appointed by the state in 2020 to oversee city finances.

City officials have challenged in court that Doweary overstepped his authority in November when he filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the city.

Chan wrote Tuesday that “elected officials’ power to govern and make decisions for the city … is not an absolute power.”

In September, the city’s projected deficit for 2023 was $46.5 million, about 80 percent of the city’s budget.

Chester became the 31st of 38,000 municipalities nationwide to enter bankruptcy.

In a January Commonwealth Court hearing. Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled the city administration is “internally dysfunctional” and called for “major changes” in how the city is governed.

Ceisler stripped council members of their department-head duties, including oversight of the city’s finances.

Read more about a ruling by federal judge Ashely Chan regarding Chester’s bankruptcy in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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