City and county leaders meet to discuss reassessment

City urges county to approve project

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - The battle over property tax reassessment in Lackawanna County is back in the spotlight.

County commissioners had a meeting with elected leaders in Scranton Tuesday morning on the controversial issue and the threat of a lawsuit is looming large.

In last November's election, Lackawanna County voters rejected a county-wide reassessment.

While a panel of judges ruled those results "null and void," the vote did sway Commissioner Pat O'Malley to publicly oppose reassessment.

Now, Scranton city leaders who want the process to take place are looking to change his mind.

"I'm just looking for the taxes to be fair," Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright said as the meeting began.

Scranton city leaders pressed hard Tuesday saying their city needs help.

They specifically want county commissioners to conduct the first county-wide reassessment in 50 years.

"You have similar homes in similar neighborhoods where one person might be paying $1,000 more in taxes than their neighbors. That's just not fair," Scranton City Council President Pat Rogan said.

The problem is two of the three current county commissioners oppose reassessment.

Laureen Cummings is squarely against it.

"I can't watch another person lose their home. I just can't!" Commissioner Laureen Cummings said.

Commissioner Jerry Notarianni is for reassessment.

"We've been doing the same thing over and over and over again and it hasn't gotten any better. We have to change something!" Commissioner Jerry Notarianni said.

That leaves the swing vote as Commissioner Pat O'Malley.

O'Malley only came out against reassessment after the results of a referendum question in November.

O'Malley says he's willing to listen to the city.

When asked if he will be open to changing his mind, Commissioner O'Malley replied, "That would be something that would be yet to be seen. I just believe in what the people voted."

That leaves the threat of a lawsuit.

Scranton could sue the county to conduct a reassessment.

While city officials say that option is on the table, everyone hopes it's a last option.

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

Scranton's mayor says the city is now planning to study the issue using county data.

They expect the results will show a reassessment is needed and if that's the case they'll ask for another meeting with commissioners.

Lackawanna County commissioners believe a county-wide reassessment could cost taxpayers at least $13 million to conduct.


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