Big Question on the Ballot in Lackawanna County

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- A 50-year debate in Lackawanna County has been boiled down to one sentence. Lackawanna County Commissioners settled on the wording of a referendum question that will ask voters if there should be a county-wide tax reassessment.

The referendum question will appear on the ballot on Election Day on November 7. The commissioners decided to put the 50-year debate into the voters' hands: should Lackawanna County do a property tax reassessment?

A property tax reassessment in Lackawanna County would affect anyone who owns a home, we just don't know how. Your taxes could go up or your taxes could go down. The decision is yours.

Here's how the referendum will appear on the November ballot:

"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% of a new base-year value?"

"When that question is asked, basically the first 10-15 words of the sentence is `do you want the county to incur debt?` I think most people are going to stop right there and just say no, they don`t want the county to incur debt," said real estate broker Phil Godlewski.

Godlewski hopes the reassessment question does not pass. He thinks it will ultimately lead to fewer people buying homes. Godlewski said that happened when Luzerne County reassessed ten years ago.

We posed the referendum question to Diane Praschak whose family has owned her home in Taylor since 1916.

"I think it should have been done earlier, and I don`t think the people in the area are fully aware of what`s going to happen. I`m afraid it`s going to, the taxes will go way up," Praschak said.

Homeowners won't know which way their reassessment will go until it's done.

Praschak thinks the wording of the referendum means that it won't be done, at least for now.

"Nobody wants to spend more money on something they don`t want to pay. So, of course, the people are going to say no. But, if it`s a necessity, then they should go up," Praschak added.

Advocates for reassessment say it makes taxing rates more fair. Most states in the country require it be done every several years. It hasn't been done in Lackawanna County since the 1960's.

Lackawanna County officials say there will be educational seminars about reassessment ahead of Election Day.


  • confused homeowner

    so, i bought a house i could afford with out taking out a loan, also based on paying the taxes i could afford.
    i paid $60,000 for a smaller house on a small patch of land . my taxes are based on a “land improvement value” of $6000.
    what does re assessment mean for me ? will i need to pay 10x the taxes i am now ? what does 100% of a new base-year value mean? how can i correctly and responsible vote for something when i have no idea what the outcome would be ? if i am forced to pay 10x what i am now i might as well burn it down and live in the woods…

  • Sam I Am

    A property tax reassessment in Lackawanna County would affect anyone who owns a home, we just don’t know how. Your taxes could go up or your taxes could go down. The decision is yours.

    Just Like the old advertisement.

    BUNK Don’t You Believe It !

    Does anyone believe that property taxes may actually go down.

    Always remember this, They never make a move the benefits you.

  • Poonus

    taxation is theft… stop taxing property. there no need to vote for more taxes.. just tell them no. again! and again! don’t worry they will keep asking because it’s not like you are going to move out of Scranton… opps.. too late.

  • Independent_JOE

    I hope the property owners/voters use common sense here. If the assessment goes through the majority of them will be paying higher property taxes plus the $13 MILLION + cost to do the reassessment. Don’t get bamboozled. The county government officials and the reassessment firm will be working hand in hand. Yu know how that will go.

  • El Ma

    I always find it rather fascinating that public officials will contract companies to “perform” any type of assessment rather than digging out the documents and data, themselves, and making an INFORMED decision for their constituents. Interesting how you can follow the money straight back to political graft…………

  • Get Real

    When Lackawanna County tried this several years ago the company contracted to perform the reassessment spent several million dollars and discovered that the records were in such disarray that they would require millions more to properly complete the process. At that point the county pulled the plug on the project. What happened to that money already spent by the taxpayers? Will the proposed new reassessment start from scratch?

  • Are you kidding!?!

    Let’s see…If I say yes, this will cost me money and $13M the county does not have: If I say no, it won’t. Multiple choice questions are so hard. I know, I’ll keep voting Democrat and let them decide for me.

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