Scranton asks judge for okay to triple LST tax

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – If you work in Scranton, you may once again be losing more money from your paycheck.

City officials asked a judge Tuesday to triple the “Local Services Tax” (LST Tax) for the fourth year in a row.

The judge’s decision will impact roughly 30,000 workers.

Because Scranton remains in financial distress, city officials have the option of tripling the annual $52 local services tax.

If approved by a judge, people who work in Scranton would once again have to pay $156 a year.

The city of Scranton has been financially distressed since 1992.

Officials hope to shed that designation soon but for the time being they say they still need people who work in the city to pay the tripled LST Tax for fire and police protection and other services.

“The city’s on track to Exit 47 (distressed status) in the next several years. We would hope in the next two years. The city has made tremendous progress in the last four or five years,” Gerald Cross with the Pennsylvania Economy League said.

Several taxpayers have formally opposed the tripled tax which has already been approved for the last three years.

Many of the objectors believe the city is simply overtaxing its residents.

“I think a lot of people are paying attention. People that talk to me on the street they just don’t want to come forward. A lot of people are appreciative of what we’ve done,” Marie Schumacher of Scranton said.

Scranton city officials believe the tripled LST tax helps spread the tax burden instead of just raising property taxes on homeowners.

If approved, the tax could bring in roughly $4.8 million this year.

If the judge decides not to allow it, witnesses testified it could jeopardize Scranton’s fiscal health.

“It make it very difficult to pay your bills towards the end of the year. The city operates a lot on cash and when you remove that much money from the budget in any one year you’re running out of money,” Cross said.

The judge did not immediately make a decision Tuesday on the city’s request for the triple tax but the judge did indicate he’s seen that the city has made a “lot of progress” in recent years.

It’s unknown exactly when the judge will hand down a decision.

If the triple tax is approved, only workers who make below $15,600/year would not have to pay it.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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