Letters To The Editor 5/19/2019
Death, taxes adage affirmed
Editor: Don’t be surprised about the city of Scranton billing taxes to homes that no longer exist.
Here’s a good story. In February 2018, I went on the website of the Scranton city treasurer’s office and clicked on links to see my property taxes and garbage fees. I only entered my last name. I was shocked to see my grandfather’s name come up.
Well, my grandfather died in 1981 and his house on Crown Avenue was taken by the government in 1975 and torn down to build McNichols Plaza Elementary School.
The city website had him listed as owing delinquent real estate taxes and delinquent refuse bills totaling $30,294.42. Scranton had forced my elderly grandparents to move, to build the school, and then added interest and penalties to their false tax bills for decades.
I contacted the city many times throughout 2018 and it took months for city employes to delete the online listings for what is a huge error, to say the least. I also asked for a written response and officials apparently have nothing to say about it. But I did state in my last letter “I may bring this shocking bumbling of city finances to public attention via the newspaper.” So, here it is.
Political scare tactics
Editor: I think it is disgraceful for Lackawanna County commissioner candidates to use scare tactics for the sake of election or re-election.
Regarding the issue of reassessment, the fact is the Lackawanna County Common Pleas Court has a pending case that basically will decide the assessment issue and more than likely, after an appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the decision will then be given to the county commissioners for implementation.
So, the reassessment scare tactic by Democratic Commissioner Patrick O’Malley, his running mate, Debi Domenick, and Republican Commissioner Laureen Cummings is totally disingenuous. I hope the taxpayers are not fooled again and they realize it will be a decision of the courts and not of the commissioners.
There are real issues of tax base expansion, service delivery, public official accountability and economic development that are in the purview of the commissioners. These issues need to be discussed so people can make intelligent, informed decisions as to who should lead the county forward and not be scared into something based on a bogus premise.
Hopefully, the voters will open their eyes and see this for what it is, a scare tactic. This is nothing more than a political move to try to keep power for themselves and in the end may the taxpayers be damned.
RONALD J. KOLDJESKI
Editor’s note: The writer is a former director of the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau.
Time for reassessment
Editor: I’m a senior citizen. My perceived issues are about financial matters. I’m not supposed to want to pay school taxes after my children graduate and I certainly must not want reassessment because I’ll lose my house.
Before retirement, I did title searches for lawyers. I saw what the lack of regular reassessments did and continues to do to the citizens of Lackawanna County.
Yes, senior citizens often feel that they can’t afford to pay more, but so do many others. Who benefits from 51 years without a reassessment? Often, it’s someone with multiple properties and those who regularly have their assessments changed. Don’t forget those who know someone. No one’s taxes are fair.
As for school taxes, I want a school system that the wealthiest families in Lackawanna County would want their children to attend. I want good preschool programs. I want an educated citizenry and children who benefit from libraries, music and the arts.
I am a senior citizen. I don’t want anyone to put words in my mouth or try to put opinions in my head, especially if it is meant to take pressure off a public employee to do what is right.
I am a lucky senior citizen. My husband will spend his 50th year working at a job that he loves. We have been blessed with a good life, wonderful friends, amazing neighbors and colleagues. We have become family to those who don’t share our DNA. We have a home away from where we were born.
I’m a senior citizen who wants fairness for every citizen. Don’t think about me without thinking about everyone else. The only things I don’t want my school taxes to fund are graft, collusion, cronyism and anything that doesn’t benefit children in the school system. I demand a reassessment out of fairness.
Restore nation’s balance
Editor: The past 18 months have felt like a roller coaster ride — a fast descent into chaos.
The fact is, we are only helpless if we believe that. We can vote, run for office and disagree in public with words and actions. We can call for change without punishment.
We live in stressful times. People who were elected to protect the public good have succumbed to the will of an egomaniacal leader. It’s a new and unfortunate day but it’s not the end.
What can we do? First, look back to 2018 when Democrats took the House of Representatives handily, returning one branch of Congress to its rightful role of applying checks and balances to the executive branch. Notwithstanding the president’s contempt for the press, our media remain independent and able to report on what is happening. At the local level, we have the right to vote and to pursue projects that strengthen our community.
American democracy has three power centers: the government, the economy and civil society. If they get out of balance democracy is endangered. The government must function to get rid of corruption, which comes in many stripes but always crosses the line from being responsible for the public good to satisfying the needs of greedy individuals and corporations. The business world must play by the rules. We have witnessed too many departures from that in recent times.
Civil society must be on the corrective side. We cannot tolerate the imbalance. Money cannot own politics. Politics must be an open debate — a struggle between or among various viewpoints with a commitment to ending with a compromise — not outright winners and losers. We must exert the power that we have to return to the balance that makes our democracy work.