Scranton Residents Sue City over Tripled Tax

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SCRANTON -- Eight Scranton residents took the city to court Monday arguing that a tax is illegal.

They say Scranton should not be able to continue tripling one particular tax that is charged to people who work in the city.

Most of those eight residents were in court along with the city's mayor, clerk, and business administrator.

The tax in question is the local services tax.

Most of us pay $52 a year. If you work in Scranton, it's been a tripled amount for the past two years to $156.

The tripled tax needs court approval every year. This is the first time it's been challenged.

Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright, the city business administrator, clerk, and a team of lawyers walked over to the Lackawanna County Courthouse Annex Monday, prepared to argue for an increased tax on people who work in the Electric City.

For the past two years, the higher tax has been unchallenged in court.

But attorney John McGovern also came to court with eight clients who argue that the tripled local services tax is illegal.

Nick Gettel is one of those residents. He also works in Scranton and pays the tripled tax $156 a year, $104 more than most other municipalities.

"The $104, what does that put away, like 33 cents a day? I'm terrible at math, so I could be way off. It was far less to do with the dollar amount and more to do with the principle. I can't help but feel that this has been unopposed for so long, so I feel fortunate to be able to be in a position to say something," said Gettel.

The city's attorneys argued that Scranton can tax more because of Act 47, the state law that labels Scranton as "distressed," but the residents point to state law that caps how much a city can collect in taxes, saying Scranton surpassed its cap.

"This is how we hold local government accountable," said Gary St. Fleur. "They are doing these things and no one knows about a cap. It makes sense that there would be a cap because taxes become self-defeating. When they reach a certain rate, people cannot afford it."

"I was happy to represent these people because finally, we were able to finally put it up, and we'll see what the judge does. If we're right, great. If we're wrong, great. Either way, the issue's going to be resolved," said John McGovern, attorney for residents.

McGovern subpoenaed Mayor Courtright to testify, but city attorneys argued against it, and won, saying the other city officials could provide all the relevant information.

Mayor Courtright says losing the tripled tax would create a $4 million hole in the city's current budget.

"Evidently, they don't feel that they should have to pay the $152 amount, but the city feels we're within the right," the mayor said.

6 comments

  • Goofball

    What? Greed and politics dont mix! How could this happen? What a joke! Time to flush our political toilet and start knew. Didnt we leave England because of overwraught political greed and self-serving “leaders” to begin with?
    ….sigh……there , I feel better now.

  • Dog Patch

    Maybe Scranton should stop giving out free money to places like Jacks Draft House by means of “economic development funds”..maybe they should take that money and pay their bills first, then play with it to create economic development once you have funds to spend to create better things to bring more people in to visit.
    I think Scranton needs to Drain the Swamp!!

  • Givemeabreak

    Land of the fleeced, home of the grave. Income tax, state tax, city tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax, right to work tax, car registration, car inspections, emission stickers. Where does it all go? What are we getting for our money?

  • Jd

    If we’re right, great. If we’re wrong great” what the h kind of attorney is this guy!? If ya need a good attorney, get one from Philly or somewhere besides Scranton!

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