SCRANTON — A financial consultant hired by the city of Scranton gave taxpayers a glimpse into what the next few years may be like.
Hikes in property taxes seem inevitable. But, some other taxes may go away.
Wednesday night, that financial consultant laid out a four-year plan aimed to help the city of Scranton out of its financial hole. He had a lot of suggestions on how to change the city’s inner workings. But, folks who live or own a business in Scranton will be most affected by some suggested changes in taxes. They include property tax hikes and a plan to get rid of some business taxes.
A few months ago, Jason Phoomahal opened up an aquarium business on Sanderson Avenue, in a business district in Scranton that’s seen its own ups and downs.
He felt better about his decision to locate in Scranton’s Green Ridge section after hearing that city leaders may drop two different taxes on business owners.
“There’s a lot of different ways they can make money, something like the mercantile tax, we’ll see that more businesses do come into the area,” Phoomahal said.
That was what the city’s financial consultant thought when he made the suggestion to the mayor and city council Thursday night.
He proposed phasing out the mercantile and business privilege taxes. But, under his plan, property taxes would go up.
A 18% increase the first year, then a 6% increase in 2016 and a 4%increase in 2017.
Many business owners Newswatch 16 talked to said the business taxes cost them a few hundred dollars a year. But, business owner Danny Petrunich thought that move won’t save him any money in the long run.
“You’re going to save money on the tax by not having to pay that, but rent or mortgage goes up. So, there’s no difference, same thing,” Petrunich said.
Some business owners in Scranton think the mercantile taxes can turn other businesses away to other municipalities in the area.
But, Michelle Petraitis, whose owned her own shop in the Green Ridge section of Scranton for 20 years, said business owners should bear some of the tax burden.
“I do think it’s going to increase taxes somewhere else in the city. And in order to make ends meet that’s not necessarily the best way to go,” Petraitis added.
The financial plan revealed Wednesday night is just a suggestion from the financial consultant hired by the city. But, Mayor Bill Courtright said he supports it so those proposed changes in taxes will likely become reality next year.