Scranton hoping for reassessment, says suing Lackawanna County is "an option on the table"

Scranton hoping for reassessment, says suing Lackawanna County is "an option on the table"

SCRANTON (WOLF) -- Scranton city leaders joined leadership from Lackawanna County to continue the property reassessment discussion Tuesday.

After 2/3 of the county commissioners previously decided against reassessment, asked voters, then had that ballot vote thrown out in court, the city is hoping to sway them in favor.

"I strongly believe that a county-wide reassessment would help spur economic development, not only in our city, but in the entire county. And that's my goal: for the economy to grow in Lackawanna County and in Scranton," said Pat Rogan, President of the Scranton City Council.

City leaders say, if they don't get on the same page, a lawsuit against the county could be on the table.

"I don't relish the thought of any government entity suing another government entity. That's why I asked for this meeting today, so that we could sit down and discuss it and figure out something that's fair for all concerned," said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.

It's been 50 years since the county has been reassessed, and the city says it's looking for taxes to be "fair and equitable", and to make property taxes consistent with their true current value.

"Go on any city street in Scranton and you can see that one person might be paying $700 a year in total property taxes, and just a block down the road, with the same square footage, they're paying $3,000," said Courtright.

But some worry if reassessment would mean a large tax increase for.

"I am one of them, I don't want my taxes to go up either," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings, who is strongly opposed to reassessment.

But there's no current guarantee who would stand to see an increase, decrease and no change to their property taxes.

"It is about fairness and I don't think it will hurt the people and I think we can put safeguards in place to make sure that we don't do that," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Jerry Notarianni, who is strongly for the measure.

Joan Hodowanitz lives in Scranton and says she is in favor of reassessment, but local leaders have their work cut out for them if they want to do it right.

"The devil is in the details. How do you do it without putting people out on the street? I don't know the answer to that and I haven't heard anybody come up with a good solution, but they better start doing their homework because you can't kick this can down the road much longer," she said.

The City of Scranton plans to take information gathered by the county and conduct their own research. Both city and county officials say they will continue the dialogue regarding the issue.

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