Scranton Aims to Change Garbage Fee Collection

SCRANTON, Pa. -- The city of Scranton's 2020 budget looks to solve a problem that's left taxpayers owing tens of millions of dollars to the city.

The budget proposal would change how the garbage fee is collected, all the while reducing how much each property owner pays.

City Council is reading over the mayor's 2020 budget proposal for the first time Monday night at its weekly meeting at City Hall. The budget needs to be passed by the middle of next month.

The proposal includes a big change to the city's garbage fee, which made big news earlier this year.

Each year, Scranton property owners owe the city $300 for DPW garbage pickup, but earlier this year, it was discovered that so many people were not paying the fee that Scranton is owed about $16 million in delinquent garbage fees.

That news was frustrating for folks, including David Chentry, who says he paid his garbage fee and came to City Hall to gripe about the collection at one of his properties.

"It's unfair, you know? How they can get away with it? If we didn't pay, we'd end up getting a lien put on the house," said Chentry.

The mayor's 2020 budget proposal looks to solve that garbage fee dilemma. Mayor Wayne Evans wants to tack the garbage fee onto the property tax bill, which means more taxpayers, including businesses, will share the burden.

As a result, everyone will pay a little bit less than previous years -- $250 instead of $300.

"We don't even know what the universe is when it comes to the garbage tax. We have so many people who aren't paying it who should be paying it. It will be spread across the entire, everyone who has a parcel number, will pay the $250," the mayor explained.

Evans says property taxes have a collection rate of around 90 percent compared to just 60 percent for the garbage fee.

Evans held a news conference with Mayor-elect Paige Cognetti, who takes over in January. Cognetti says she supports a change that would make it a bit easier for people who already pay the fee.

"There's that feeling of nickel and diming as we charge, different pieces of paper that are floating around everyone's house all year. That type of thing doesn't feel good, even if it is the same amount of taxation," Cognetti said.

As for the $16 million owed from delinquent garbage fees, Mayor Evans says he's not giving up on collecting that.

"That's not going away until we get every nickel we can get out of it," said Evans.

The garbage fee change and the entire 2020 budget proposal still need approval from City Council. The Council is expected to vote in a few weeks on the budget.


  • lamestream r

    All this talk about fees for garbage is rubbish! You allowed this to happen without a whimper! Garbage was always paid for through your taxes, for services rendered! It only became another tax when politicians created high paying job positions for people who helped them to win in elections and used the rest of our tax money elsewhere for nonsense stuff. There should be “NO” garbage tax at all, this is why we “PAY” taxes!

  • jrcash27

    How about hiring an independent refuse collection company? Solves two problems. No lazy city workers raiding the coffers with their overtime and pensions and if you don’t pay you don’t get picked up. Doesn’t take a genius. Seems like the mayor just wants to put the burden on the already burdened taxpayers. I know in Philadelphia if you owe the city money you do not get to work for the city.

  • Mopar Driver (@RustyMopars)

    60% collection rate !!! What happens to refusing to collect that properties garbage or is it a fee on non garbage producing properties ? I find it hard to believe that private companies cannot be given bids and as in my area 1 0r 3 cans is an option and all for $160 a year for 1, This also eliminates the collections as the company does it and shuts off the offenders , All they would need is a fine by the city that massively exceeds the skipping the garbage fee as a deterrent .

  • savescrantonhistory

    I seem to recall them publishing a list of the delinquents, both property tax and garbage fee, a while ago and more than a few of those names belonging to city employees. In fact I seem to also remember one or more of them being shamed into coming in to begin making payments to get up to date. With what these people make it’s a travesty that any of them are behind in their property taxes and garbage fees. Since they get their money directly from the city, any delinquencies they have should be taken straight out of their checks BEFORE they get them to be sure they’ll remain up to date on taxes and fees.

    As it is though I’ve always been a fan of a PER BAG fee in this city. That way the people putting out a mountain sized pile of bags of trash pay their fair share while those of us putting out a lone bag once a week get an actual break for once.

    • wnepcommenter

      A per bag fee in Scranton would be awful. Have you seen how many public areas (creeks, rivers, parks, etc.) are already full of trash? What about the businesses with dumpsters? I wouldn’t put it past people to drive down the block early on trash day and throw their bags in someone else’s garbage either.

      • savescrantonhistory

        It worked in Pittston, at least for those who actually paid it. But like you said some people (a buddy of mines brother, God rest his soul) used to ‘export’ his garbage every week to his parents house in Scranton.

        Not only that but a cousin of mine who has a business in Old Forge would take his garbage up to an apartment building his dad owns in Scranton versus paying for a dumpster or a trash fee in Old Forge.

        Just sickens me that I get to pay the same amount as these people who put out 10-12 bags a week and I put out ONE bag if I’m lucky.

    • Joe Justjoe (@ForjoeJustjoe)

      You forgot to add >>> “plus the burden of the delinquents is now upon the property and business owners via a slight increase in the properety tax rate.” :O Your new mayor will probably find other ways to suck you dry slowly I’m sure. :-)

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