Taxpayers sue county looking for reassessment

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Just when you thought the idea of a property tax reassessment was dead in Lackawanna County, think again.

Three taxpayers are now suing to make the idea a reality.

Lackawanna County has not done a property tax reassessment since 1968. That is fifty years.

The three taxpayers who have decided to sue the county all live in the city of Scranton and say they’re being hurt by decades-old tax values.

The property tax reassessment issue has been a hot button issue for years.

In a referendum question last November, voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea.

While judges ruled the results “null and void,” it was enough to convince two commissioners the process shouldn’t move forward.

Wednesday was the opening day at the Co-Op Farmers Market in Scranton. It’s an annual tradition that brings together neighbors for good conversation.

It’s also the perfect place to hear opinions on the hot button issue of a county-wide property tax reassessment.

“I think the taxes are outrageous and just keep going up,” Shirley Merrick of Scranton said.

Three Scranton taxpayers agree.

They’ve now filed a civil lawsuit against Lackawanna County looking to force the county to perform its first reassessment since 1968.

“I think it should be done. It’s a problem that’s been outstanding for a long time. Nobody really wants to take the bull by the horns and say this is what needs to be done,” Sharon Thauer of Scranton said.

Not everyone agrees with the lawsuit or the reassessment idea.

“I think probably against it because I can’t afford it,” Donald Pregmon of Scranton said.

In the 14-page lawsuit, the three taxpayers claim the lack of a reassessment is putting them at risk of losing their homes.

The plaintiffs also claim they can’t adequately maintain or repair their properties because their tax burden is so high.

That is an issue Kathy Coyle says she’s heard before.

“They just have to live in the houses. You can’t put any money into the houses because you have to pay the taxes so that’s the way I look at it. You can’t fix your house up. That’s why they’re all falling down in Scranton and they’re all boarded up,” Kathy Coyle of Scranton said.

The civil lawsuit against Lackawanna County was filed earlier this week.

A county spokesman says they have not yet received it and could not comment on its merits at this time.

The three taxpayers are getting help in their lawsuit with the help of a non-profit organization called the “Community Justice Project.”

According to its website, the agency helps people challenge policies that cause hardships to low income people.

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

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