Seniors Worry About Proposed Tax Hikes in Scranton

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SCRANTON -- A property tax hike proposed by the Mayor of Scranton could be the biggest in recent memory. Almost a 50% increase for 2014, plus an increase in garbage fees.

Mayor Chris Doherty said it's needed to get Scranton back on good financial ground, but taxpayers on fixed incomes said their finances will take a big hit.

Scranton City Council will discuss the proposed budget for the first time at its meeting Thursday night. City council can make changes to the Mayor's proposal.

Today Newswatch 16 talked to taxpayers who are most concerned about two parts of the budget, plans for a 49% property tax increase and an increase in garbage fees.

A group of friends meets for lunch each day at the South Side Senior Center in Scranton.  They have a lot in common, many of them are homeowners in the city and almost all of them are on a fixed income.

So, news that they could face Scranton's highest ever hike in property taxes is pretty scary.

"Paying extra taxes just isn't feasible for the older people today, you know? And you figure most of those people are going to lose their homes," said Mary Lou Kernan of Scranton.

The budget proposal that includes a 49% property tax increase isn't set in stone, but it could mean several hundred dollars more for Robert Neveroski who owns a home and rents out two others.

"It gives me less available spending money. I'm paying $6,000 a year now and whatever it goes up now it will be substantial," Neveroski said.

Under the Mayor's budget proposal Scranton, if you paid $300 in property taxes this year a 50% increase would mean a $450 dollar tax bill in 2014.

There's another part of the Mayor's proposed budget that has homeowners concerned. Garbage collection fees would go up from $178 per year to $300.

Administrators hope to make more than $2 million with that hike.

The proposed increase actually brings garbage fees in the city of Scranton closer in line with some other municipalities in Lackawanna County. It would still be lower than the $350 annual garbage fee in South Abington Township.

But, back at the senior center, folks say even an extra $100 a year in garbage fees is too much.

"I think the city should go bankrupt and start all over again. We don't have the industry, we don't have the population, and the older people don't have the money they need to do these things," added Peggy Kile of Scranton.

Council has until December 15th to make changes and pass an official budget.


  • Charly Lucky

    Perfect, they dont have enough city owned property that they took for non payment of real estate taxes, they want more?? So, raise the taxes, owners can’t pay them, the city takes them.
    Then those people live on the street, or become renters, and pay no real estate tax at all.The properties fall into neglect, falling down, worthless.
    THE UNPAID TAXES KEEP ACCUMULATING, the figure hits, lets say, $10,000, and they auction it off for $1,000.
    Am I crazy? This is not the answer. Create a program where everyone pays their fair share.
    No more real estate tax hikes, raise the sales tax, so everyone has to pay their share, even the people who rent, have to pay sales tax, use that $ for schools.
    All this to pay for political corruption of the past 100 years!!!

  • Janet Den Haese Anderson

    The counties are left to raise taxes to meet their budgets yet Corbett goes around bragging that his budget doesn’t raise taxes….no….he left that for the counties. These legislators and board members need to look at the delinquent rolls for taxes and see that all it’s going to do is create more delinquency’s. But they’ll start spending this fathom money immediately and then next year complain about more delinquency’s. The gas and oil companies that are getting these tax breaks need to start paying their fair share.

  • Ashley Dancho

    When all the people lose their homes I hope they will take care of them. Many people are barely hanging on today. They are going without heat and enough food. What else can they cut to pay for all the corruption going on? I know a 67 year old man that worked hard his whole life. After a family illness he lost everything and had to start over. Now he is barely keeping a roof over his head and has health issues , eats one meal a day and goes without food the last couple days of the month until the 3rd. He has not been able to afford oil heat for a couple years and keeps warm with lots of blankets and two electric heaters. He has falling apart shoes and few clothes. What else does he have to give up? Raise the taxes so he can lose this home too. Pa needs to do something about property taxes that cost people their homes after they worked so hard to pay for them.

  • Earl Bailey

    Scranton had what? Five pages of people who didn’t pay their garbage tax for 2012? Next year they will have fifteen pages, a whole section of delinquents! Now, if half the residents hold off on paying their property tax in 2014, Scranton will miss payroll and go bankrupt, whether they have permission or not.

  • ME

    Other states cut seniors a break after they reach a certain age, usually 65 or earlier. At the very least, they freeze the amount, if not do away with it altogether. It’s about time PA does something similar. Where do they think people are going to get money, if they’re no longer working or can’t work to pay the corrupt officials. Find ways to make up for the lost income. Driving people out of their homes and the areas is not the answer.

    • lady

      so right, alot of states freeze the taxes at age 65. the mayor is leaving office and wants to really do a number on the people of scranton. he’s a joke!!!

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