AP NEWS

Lackawanna County Chief Of Staff, Brother Owe $60,000 In Delinquent Taxes And Scranton Garbage Fees

April 2, 2019

SCRANTON — Lackawanna County’s chief of staff and her brother owe more than $60,000 in delinquent taxes and trash fees for several city properties they own. Fran Pantuso, whom commissioners appointed chief of staff in early March, and her brother, Alfred D. Pantuso Jr., owe a total of about $47,447 in unpaid Scranton garbage fees for rental properties at 431 Phelps St., 449 Phelps St., 451 Phelps St., 455 Phelps St. and 455 Rear Phelps St., with some of those unpaid fees more than a decade old, according to a Times-Tribune analysis. The siblings also owe about $12,758 in delinquent city taxes for properties at 451 Phelps St., 455 Phelps St. and 520 Ash St. Those back taxes date from between 1998 to 2001, the newspaper found. In total, Fran Pantuso and Alfred D. Pantuso Jr. owe the city at least $60,205. On Tuesday, Fran Pantuso said she and her brother are determining how much they owe and will set up a payment plan to pay it. She said she was unaware of the late garbage fees until the newspaper published Satuday a database and list of delinquent city property owners. Fran Pantuso said the properties are in both her and her brother’s names for the purposes of estate planning, but that her brother handles the taxes and fees and that she doesn’t see any bills. She noted her brother is busy running his business, Pantuso Motors, and said she “should have been a little bit more diligent” in making sure the taxes and fees were paid. Efforts to reach Alfred D. Pantuso Jr. were unsuccessful Tuesday. “My name is on it, and I feel a responsibility for it,” Fran Pantuso said, calling the situation embarrassing. “To say that this has slipped through the cracks is a little bit of an understatement.” The city filed municipal liens in 2017, totaling $6,053.48 for outstanding garbage fees owed in 2014 and 2015, for the five Phelps Street properties. The Roaring Brook Twp. Sewer Authority also filed a roughly $1,115 lien in July for unpaid sewer fees against a property at 101 Circle Drive in the township, which Fran Pantuso, her father, Alfred D. Pantuso Sr. and James D. Ross, who is deceased, own. Attorney Armand Olivetti, who rents the home from Pantuso and her father, said the sewer account is in his name and he takes responsibility for the unpaid fees. Olivetti, who serves as chairman of both the Lackawanna County Fair and Recreation Authority and fair board, said he fell behind in sewer payments because of health issues. He paid $1,000 of the $1,114.90 lien in September, but said he didn’t alert the Pantusos of the lien until earlier this year. He said he plans to pay the remainder of the lien soon. Fran Pantuso, who earns $70,000 annually as chief of staff, said all taxes and fees for 948 N. Garfield Ave., Scranton, a rental property exclusively in her name, are paid. The Pantuso siblings are among 5,352 Scranton property owners who collectively owe a staggering $16.8 million in unpaid Scranton garbage bills. That is about a quarter of all property owners in the city. Efforts to reach commissioners Patrick O’Malley and Laureen Cummings were unsuccessful Tuesday. Commissioner Jerry Notarianni said he is not familiar enough with Pantuso’s tax and trash fee issues to comment. Commissioners meet 10 a.m. Wednesday in the fifth-floor conference room of the Lackawanna County Government Center at the Globe, 123 Wyoming Ave., Scranton. Contact the writer: jhorvath@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter