Lackawanna County Ballot Question Declared ‘Null and Void’ by Judges

SCRANTON -- A panel of judges has decided the reassessment question on the ballot in Lackawanna County will not count.

The judges voted 2 to 1 that the results of the referendum will be "null and void," meaning votes cast on the question will not be counted.

Attorneys for Lackawanna County were in court last week to defend the wording of a referendum question. It essentially asks the voters whether Lackawanna County should do a property tax reassessment, something that hasn't been done in almost 50 years.

This is the wording of the proposed ballot question.

"Shall the Lackawanna County commissioners incur debt not to exceed $13 million solely for the purpose of conducting a county-wide revision of assessment so that all real estate within the county will be assessed at a predetermined ratio of 100 percent of a new base year value?"

Two businessmen, Chuck Volpe and Keith Eckel, both from the Clarks Summit area, filed a court injunction saying the wording of the referendum question is too confusing and that most voters won't understand what they're voting for.

The county's attorneys say the wording is what real estate attorneys recommended.

The judges sided with the plaintiffs in the case who said the wording was "unintelligible."

13 comments

  • sc

    I have an answer to your tax rev problem!
    Everyone get on the lackawanna county tax public record website and look up your home address and notice ALL THE PROPERTIES IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD WITH NO TAX ASSE VALUE OR TAXED AMOUNT. SOME OF OUR NEIGHBORS ARE NOT PAYING TAXES….PERIOD!!!!

  • Hmmm

    Check out page A13 in the October 29 Scranton Times. Both commissioners Patrick O’Malley and Jerry Notarianni have personal residences with a purchase price of $1.

    • Big Whoop

      At least we aren’t paying for their dwelling like the leeches of society that claim welfare while making under the table cash or allowing their significant others to live in their section 8 housing so they don’t lose their free housing.

  • Russ

    Leave it up to an attorney to complicate the verbiage BEYOND what the average person can fully comprehend. Lawyer-speak belongs in contracts and fine print, where it is needed and belongs, not on a ballot question where many people must be able to EASILY understand what is written. Nice going counselors.

    • Robert

      Yup, I was fine until the language “New base year value.” showed up. That has me scratching! Google and Bing didn’t like it either. The best I can conclude from relevant links it’s going to reset the base value of a property in the year following the reassessment and tax it at 100%. Assuming it passes any property currently taxed at less than 100% value but more than 50% of its value (homestead exclusion) will now be taxed at 100%. Because of the language will each new year be a new base year and taxable at 100% despite the homestead exclusion act? That last question could qualify as absurd under the assumption the government has my best interests in mind. But since the government demonstrates no fiduciary requirements it is a reasonable question.

  • PEATER MOSS

    Always remember these 2 things ( and beware).

    They never make a move that benefits you.

    It’s all in the wording.

  • Robert

    13 million? That sounds like a stupid amount of money to do the reassessment. What is up with the 100% base rate tax and how will this affect reduced rates for approved homestead reduction act? Sounds fishy!

    • Robert

      I have no problem understanding the question on its face. Its the implications in the wording that have me wondering what the intent is behind the reassessment. Besides the obvious increases in property values, what percent of the property value is currently taxed. I doubt its 100%. At least not for those that applied for and received the Homestead exclusion. Act1 2006. Which enables those approved to be taxed at a reduced rate, no lower than 50% of the accessed value of the property. Will the language in that question you seem to think so simple going to (because YES was checked) circumvent any currently approved homeowners receiving reduced tax rates and adjust the rate of the property taxed upward to 100%? If that is the case then even those who’s properties were accessed at the same value or even lower values to see a tax increase, because your being taxed on 100% of the value of your property not the previous lower percentage. Donna I think its you who should stay out of the voting booth!

      • Tom

        All that’s needed for starters is to investigate why some people pay little for elaborate property and some pay much for modest property.. Then take the human factor out of the future calculation.. Scrantonville
        ..

Comments are closed.