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Commissioners Battle Back over Ballot Question

SCRANTON -- Two businessmen were successful in stopping a referendum on property reassessment but now the Lackawanna County commissioners are firing back.

The ballots and voting machines that will be used throughout Lackawanna County next week are being stored at the Board of Elections office in Scranton.

Those ballots have a referendum question on them asking whether Lackawanna County should do a property tax reassessment. What we don't know yet is whether your yes or no vote will count.

Chuck Volpe took on Lackawanna County government and won. He was one of two county residents who fought to remove a referendum question on next week's ballot.

The ballots are already printed, but two judges ruled that results won't count.

"I think the public was the winner. The citizens of Lackawanna County were the winners," Volpe said.

The question asks if Lackawanna County should borrow money to do a property tax reassessment for the first time in about 50 years.

At their first meeting since Tuesday's court defeat, Lackawanna County commissioners announced they have appealed the judges' decision.

"This affects families in a lot of different ways and I wanted to have the families have the opportunity to be able to make this decision on their own. And hopefully, with our appeal, they will have that option," said Commissioner Pat O'Malley, (D) Lackawanna County.

The commissioners themselves have three different opinions on tax reassessment.

Pat O'Malley pushed for the referendum.

Jerry Notarianni supports reassessment but not the referendum.

"To not reassess continues to hinder our economic development," said Commissioner Jerry Notarianni, (D) Lackawanna County.

While Commissioner Laureen Cummings approved the referendum, she does not support reassessment and tried again to stop it.

"I'm just going to go ahead and make a motion to not perform a reassessment. I'm making a motion, can I get a second on that? There you go. I didn't shirk my responsibility. I was elected as someone who was against reassessment, I just put a motion on the floor and nobody seconded it," said Commissioner Laureen Cummings, (R) Lackawanna County.

Volpe thinks the reassessment should be done but says his case was focused on the wording of the question.

"They have a remedy right there: have this in May when everybody will have a chance to understand the question, and they can reword it properly so people can understand it."

The commissioners and their attorneys need to prove to a higher court in Harrisburg that the judges' ruling to nullify the referendum isn't reasonable and they have six days to do so.

Commonwealth Court judges in Harrisburg now are faced with deciding whether the election results should stand. County officials asked for a speedy decision since election day is November 7.

6 comments

  • Pay up

    Should be a state law that assessments be done at 10 year intervals minimum in order for your city or county to be eligible to receive any money from the states general fund!

  • 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!!!!

    • sc

      and word up YO!…. it wont cost millions to figure it out. a bot can compile a scan list of those with no value number or mil. or taxed amount faced. it shouldnt take more than 50 people to take measurements and do the figuring and within a year, present the currently (untaxed) with their (fair) tax.
      the billions in revenue i could only imagine what they would blow it on……public sector raises maybe?!

      • Brian

        100% CORRECT, If you realize that an assessment has not been done since the 60s, you should realize the many houses that were built, bought, and sold over 50 years and have had political affiliations. I would imagine that the number of homes in Lackawanna County that pay NO taxes would number well over a hundred, with all of the political cronies and their descendants being on the NO tax list. I personally would want to see a list of the homeowners that pay NO taxes. They ALL know whom they are and are very nervous over having that information made public. They should all be forced to pay back taxes for the 50+ years missed. Do you think any of the County Commissioners that are against reassessment have anything to hide ?

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