The City of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s seventh largest city, is a distressed municipality under Act 47. Further hampering Scranton’s recovery efforts are the 40-year-old property assessments being used by Lackawanna County. These out-dated assessments are literally starving Scranton for cash. Scranton is facing a $5.2 million dollar deficit in 2011 and $5+ million dollar deficits for several more years down the road. In the last 16 years the assessment value of city properties has increased less than one percent while market values have risen 35%!
The other sad part of the story is the nobody has the $8 million dollars to pay for the reassessment implementation. The reassessment has been completed and it will take about six months to get an acceptable range. However, this is useless information until funding is secured.
Scranton and Lackawanna County need to find a way to pay for the implementation. As the largest city in Lackawanna County and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area, Scranton can not be allowed to go under. The burden of a failed city will fall on every taxpayer in Lackawanna County and beyond. We all will have to pay through increased taxes and fees.
As a distressed city under Act 47, where is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in all of this? Some help is needed here if we ever want Scranton to recover and get off Act 47. Our cities are vital to the prosperity of Pennsylvania. Considering some of the crap in the state budget, I would think we could find money to fund or partially fund something as important as this.