Scranton’s Chamber Of Commerce Says No To Commuter Tax

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SCRANTON -- More negative backlash is being heard in the Electric City after Scranton City Council approved its controversial proposed commuter tax.

On Tuesday the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce said, not surprisingly, an overwhelming number in the business community oppose the tax.

People coming into the Electric City to make a living could be sharing the burden of getting Scranton out of its financial hole.

City council approved a controversial one percent commuter tax on non-residents working in the city, which is part of the city`s recovery plan.

Austin Burke, the president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, says an online survey showed 84 percent of the chamber`s members, which is made up of the business community, oppose the tax.

“This is an additional burden, in addition to the mercantile tax, the business privilege tax, the parking tax. Now they want to put another tax on. We will no longer be competitive with businesses outside of the Scranton,” said Burke.

Philip Condron owns an advertising agency in downtown Scranton and says this tax will drive employers and employees out.

“It`s going to cause them to question whether or not it's worth continuing to work for our company, or find a company outside the city who won`t charge them that, “said Condron, who owns Condron and Company.

According to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, a commuter tax can be imposed as part of a municipality`s comprehensive recovery plan.

11 municipalities in Pennsylvania currently have a commuter tax.

Philadelphia`s tax is at 3.499 percent.

The only other one in our area is Plymouth Township which charges 1.4 percent.

Richard Bishop has a law office in Scranton and some of his employees will be affected by this. He says the commuter tax still needs approval from the Lackawanna County Court.

If that fails, ultimately the city`s only option is to raise property taxes.

“The answer is that the taxes that have been sort of suppressed are going to have to come up for the people to fulfill the responsibilities of the plan,” said Bishop.

Council President Janet Evans hopes to have a hearing with a county judge before the end of the year.

The city wants to implement this tax by January 1.