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.