Lackawanna County Commissioners May Reconsider Tax Hike

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The 38 percent tax increase for Lackawanna County is not set in stone, at least not yet.

Wednesday was the first regular meeting for the new Lackawanna County commissioners since they were sworn into office.

After some taxpayers showed up to show their disgust over a hefty tax increase they promised to think about making changes to the budget.

Many of the people who attended Wednesday's first Lackawanna County commissioner's meeting came with concerns over the 38 percent property tax increase that takes effect this year. It was approved by the previous administration, but many of the voters said it's now the new commissioners' responsibility.

There was no grace period for the new Lackawanna County commissioners. In their first regularly scheduled meeting, the public comments had an overriding theme of concern and anger over the 38 percent property tax increase that takes effect this year.

"The last budget they rammed through in one day. I mean, it was ridiculous. You know, it's time for these commissioners, the new commissioner, to do the right thing. Listen to the people of this county, and bring these taxes down," said Ray Nearhood of Scranton.

If the new commissioners choose to reopen the 2012 budget, they will have a month to make changes. People attending the meeting also asked for a change in laws. They want one that would allow taxpayers to vote on proposed hikes.

"So essentially we can be taxed 100 percent and nothing can be done about it, which is outrageous, to think that that's even a law," said Laureen Cummings of Old Forge.

The first commissioners meeting only lasted about 30 minutes, but the concerned citizens stayed to get answers from the new chairman of the board, Jim Wansacz. He didn't make any promises, but said the commissioners will consider reopening the 2012 budget.

"We're 11 days into this administration. We're looking at everything, trying to see if there is anything that we can do. Should we open it up? What effect would opening it up have on the people of Lackawanna County?" Wansacz said.

"They have 30 days in which to make changes to the budget. They can't blame it on the last administration. So, we got them," said Maria Gillette of Carbondale.

Commissioner Wansacz said if they decide to reopen the budget they will need to decide within the next two weeks. Any changes, say to the tax hike, would need to be approved by February 15.