SCRANTON, Pa. -- A partnership between Lackawanna County and the city of Scranton was made official Tuesday. Both governments hope the plan will save Scranton money.
The new arrangement changes the way taxes will be collected in the city. That partnership also allows for the city to get rid of a third-party tax collection company which was embroiled in former mayor Bill Courtright's pay-to-play scheme.
City officials say this new arrangement is long overdue.
One of the first priorities on Mayor Wayne Evans' agenda when he took office in July was to change the way the city's property taxes are collected. That change was finally made in Evans' final days as mayor.
Lackawanna County and the city of Scranton announced a partnership in which the county will collect all of the city's property taxes.
"I believe that this partnership is something that should have happened at least six years ago, but we all have an understanding of what was going on with the past administration, and why they did not want to deal with the Lackawanna County Tax Bureau, which makes me very sick inside and bothers me as an elected official," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Pat O'Malley.
Former mayor Bill Courtwright resigned in July before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. He admitted to extorting vendors looking to do work in the city in a pay-to-play scheme.
One of the companies identified as offering kickbacks in that scheme is Northeast Revenue, which has collected delinquent fees and taxes for the city since 2008. The county will now take over that responsibility.
In a statement, Northeast Revenue said:
"We want to make it clear that neither our company nor any of its officers or employees have been charged with any unlawful acts in connection with Scranton's former mayor. Allegations in the federal charging documents were never supported and never connected to our company."
Earlier this year, it was discovered that so many people were not paying their garbage fees that Scranton was owed about $16 million in delinquent fees.
This partnership with the county aims to fix that problem.
"It's something that's going to save the city money. It's going to be more efficient, it's going to be more effective," said Scranton Mayor Wayne Evans.
Not only does the city hope to save money by not having to pay Northeast Revenue, but it hopes to make more money by collecting garbage fees more effectively.
The contract with Northeast Revenue expires at the end of June. The company is still responsible for collecting delinquent garbage fees.
Also important for city residents to remember with this change, your garbage bill will now be attached to your property tax bill.