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Scranton Mayor Deceives City on Massive Tax Hike

Earlier this year Scranton made news by joining the ranks of cities flirting  with bankruptcy. Although it avoided that fate with an emergency rescue plan, the details of that plan are now coming out, and they aren’t pretty. In particular, Scranton residents can expect to see their taxes go up. A lot.

The official statistics from the Mayor’s office claim that real estate taxes are scheduled to rise by a startling 69 percent over the next three years. This would be bad enough, but, according to one University of Scranton professor, the government is also using a misleading formula to calculate the tax increases. He claims the true increase will be an astonishing 81 percent. The Times-Tribune reports:

City officials add up the percentages used in the city’s proposed recovery plan – 12 percent in 2013, 44.32 percent in 2014 and 12.24 percent in 2015- and say taxes will rise 68.56 percent.

That calculation is wrong, the university’s math chairman, Jakub Jasinski, Ph.D., said.

The right way is to take into account that the figures used to calculate taxes in the second and third years change because of the earlier-year increases, Dr. Jasinski said.

The high costs of Scranton’s rescue plan will clearly do little to boost jobs in a city where businesses are already feeling squeezed. But worse news is the use of cheap accounting tricks to hide the true costs of the rescue plan. If the allegations are true, it would make the current crop of pols little better than the ones that got Scranton into this mess in the first place.

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  • Art Deco

    What do you mean ‘if’? It is simple arithmetic. News reports claiming a 69% increase would have confused any city resident who can multiply a decimal.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    So a politician, a most trustworthy profession, said taxes are going up 69%, an independent person checked the math and said it is 81%.

    Wow, a huge shockah. As political lies go, this one a tiny midget.

    Not being familiar with Scranton, PA I looked up their demographics and was surprised. Whites are 85% of total and 20% of adults have at least BS/BA, cities with such demo do not get into financial troubles.

    Unless there is a solid tradition of corrupt and incompetent leadership and poor citizenship on the part of residents.

  • Sam L.

    What? These guys are new(er)?

  • Kenny

    Vote in a Democrat and you get lies and taxes, trademarks of the party of public sector unions, among other loathsome groups.

  • Eurydice

    I can’t get outraged by this because it’s not clear from the article whether the tax increases will be imposed in dollar terms or percentages. The Times-Tribune says that the city will calculate dollar amounts owed off of a 2013 base – so starting with a base of $100, people will owe $12 in 2013, a total of $56.32 in 2014, and a total of $68.56 in 2015, which is 68.56% over three years. If this is what the city actually intends to do, then they’ve miscalculated in converting $ to % increases in the intervening years – they should be 12%, 39.6% and 7.8%.

    There’s a quote by a city official who says something about how the dollars stay the same no matter how the percentages are calculated, so maybe this is what they’re doing – but what’s more clear is that somebody doesn’t know how to do basic math.

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