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CARBONDALE — In one part of Lackawanna County, if you haven’t paid your property taxes, it’s not a secret anymore.
The Mayor of Carbondale said it’s a growing problem in the city, so he came up with what some would call a creative way to get people to pay up.
Bob Ashby has lived in Carbondale for 75 years, and just like he always does, came by city hall months early to pay his 2013 sewer and garbage fees. While several hundred of his fellow Carbondaliens were listed in the weekly local paper for not paying last year.
It’s the latest, and perhaps most aggressive move the City of Carbondale has made to solve what they call a serious problem. Carbondale’s Mayor Justin Taylor said the city misses out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes and fees that are never paid.
So, the mayor put the names of those who never paid in 2012 on a four page list in The Carbondale News.
Tara Houdershildt found her house on the list. The news wasn’t a surprise, but the way she found out was.
“It’s putting private information in the paper, you know, you’re putting my mom’s name in the paper for not paying her taxes? We’re foreclosing anyway on the house,” she said.
Newswatch 16 talked to plenty of people outside a popular convenient store in Carbondale, and the list was a popular topic, whether you were on it, or not.
“Because that way people will pay their taxes and the school district won’t be $630,000 in the hole,” said Joseph Healey of Carbondale.
Owed school taxes were actually not included in the list, only owed city taxes, garbage fees, and fire fees. The total more than $370,000 for 2012.
The biggest number yet in Mayor Taylor’s 12 years in office.
“It is public record, it’s not meant to embarrass anyone. It really is meant to try to bring to light the issues that the city faces. Some people may not even know they’re on that list,” said Mayor Taylor.
Taylor said the published list will help the city clean up the tax rolls too, and it’s already working. So far, about 100 tax-delinquent folks have come in and paid.