Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
HAZLETON, PA — Barry Postupack tried to buy the litter-strewn lot next to his Hazleton business for around $12,000 when Luzerne County government put it on the market in 2008, but he was told he’d have to offer at least $18,000, the appraised value then.
The lot, which has about $80,000 in county fundsinvested in it, was never sold.
As a toilet, broken glass, shopping cart and other debris piled up, Postupack said he continued to inquire with various county offices about buying the land but was never given an opportunity to negotiate. He gave up two years ago.
But the real slap in Postupack’s face was news that Hazleton Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi asked the cash-strapped county to sell the lot at 56 N. Cedar St., last assessed at $15,500, to the city for $1.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A dramatic drop in the Harrisburg Mall‘s tax assessment means Dauphin County, a municipality and school district are collecting an estimated $838,164 a year less in revenue than they did in 2010.
The new value of the mall is $7.987 million — less than one-eighth of the nearly $66.5 million assessed in 2010 and less than half of its 2012 assessment of $17.65 million.
For Swatara Township, that lost revenue, in part, contributed to the township’s need to raise taxes in past years.
Central Dauphin School District remained aware of the property’s decreasing value and took that into consideration concerning its budget. For Dauphin County, the most recent drop means the loss of less than one-half of a percent of the county’s annual budget.
The city of Pittsburgh‘s residential properties are now assessed at a total of $10.78 billion, up 46 percent from their prior assessment of $7.33 billion, officials said in the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. today.
“That would mean everyone whose assessment went up by one-third would actually be paying fewer taxes, if the commercial came in at that amount” of increase, Judge Wettick said.
The city and school district must lower their millage, he noted, so they do not take an illegal windfall from the county’s reassessment.
I commented last year and cited examples of other cities and towns in Pennsylvania who have more size appropriate budgets. Pottstown’s budget is enormous!
Jeff Leflar makes some good points in his recent post on The Pulse about Pottstown’s spending addiction and the inability of our leadership to cut expenses. We continually raise taxes! Eventually nobody will be able to afford to live here!
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.