February 7, 2017
For Immediate Release
Group of Eight subpoenas mayor, city council for illegal tax hike
Yesterday, the Group of Eight — Scranton citizens who are fed up with local tax increases — subpoenaed the city’s mayor, city council, and the Pennsylvania Economic League (PEL, the organization responsible for aiding the city on its path to recovery) to respond to the charge that this year’s tripling of local services taxes is unlawful.
A public hearing will be held on Monday Feb 13 in the Administration building across from the courthouse in downtown Scranton.
A response to the tax increase filed by Attorney John McGovern on behalf of the Group of Eight argues that the tax increase is illegal.
Gary St. Fleur, member of the Group of Eight and founder of the political activist group Save Scranton, contends that the Scranton government has been illegally overtaxing its citizens by millions of dollars every year. St. Fleur also led a local business boycott against the Mercantile Tax last year.
The response was filed as a reaction to the City of Scranton attempting to triple local services taxes to $156 a year for the 32,000 workers in Scranton pursuant to the Amoroso Recovery Plan that was approved by the mayor and city council. Its author, Henry Amoroso, who was hired by Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
Local services taxes fall under Act 511 taxes, which govern the collection of local taxes. It places a cap on how much money can be collected through local taxes, which is determined by the value of all property in the city multiplied by 12 mills.
The city of Scranton has gone over this legal limit for the past five years with the recent budget showing an overage of $10,000,000. If the case is ruled in favor of the Group of Eight, the city will be required to bring down local service taxes to their legal limit.
According to McGovern’s analysis, the city of Scranton can only collect $27,789,175 from local taxes annually.
“How could the mayor or city council approve of an illegal plan?” asks St. Fleur. “Did Henry Amoroso the Mayor, City Council or PEL know about the legal limit on Act 511 Taxes? Are they incompetent, or did they intentionally violate the law?”
“The aggregate amount of all taxes imposed by any political subdivision under this section and in effect during any fiscal year shall not exceed an amount equal to the product obtained by multiplying the latest total market valuation of real estate in such political subdivision, as determined by the board for the assessment and revision of taxes or any similar board established by the assessment laws which determines market values of real estate within the political subdivision, by twelve mills.”