Did The City Of Scranton Just Suffer A Fatal Blow?

Did The City Of Scranton Just Suffer A Fatal Blow?

Gary St. Fleur versus the city of Scranton , involving the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board. The city of Scranton is now facing bankruptcy, Gary alleges. The order forces them to set aside 50 million they don’t have and they cannot collect any taxes locally for a year!


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In the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County

Civil Law Division





This is a mandamus action initiated by eight individual Plaintiffs against the City of Scranton, former Mayor William L. Couttright and Business Administratot David Bulzoni. There have been several legal skirmishes up to this point, including an interlocutory appeal to the Commonwealth Court.

Before us currently is Plaintiffs’ renewed Motion for Petemptory Judgment.” Plaintiffs’ renewed Motion and supporting brief were filed in January, 2019, and the opposition papers of the Defendants were filed in February, 2019. By agreement of the parties, the matter was submitted on the papers. For reasons which follow, the renewed Motion for Peremptory Judgment will be GRANTED.


Plaintiffs allege that they are all residents of the City and, as such, ate subject to various taxes levied by the City pursuant to 53 P.S. §6924.320 (Act 511). Plaintiffs further allege that the aggregate amount of all taxes imposed by the City under Act 511 during any fiscal year “shall not exceed an ammount equal to the product obtained by multiplying the latest total market valuation of real estate in (the City)” as determined by the appropriate board established to determine market values of real estate within the City by twelve mils. 53 P.S. §6924.320(a).

In a political subdivision within a county where no such market values have been determined by the appropriate board, then the aggregate amount of taxes shall not exceed an amount “equal to the product obtained by multiplying the latest total market valuation of teal estate . . . as certified by the State Tax Equalization Board, by twelve mils.” Id, (2016).

The Lackawanna County Assessor’s Office, while maintaining real estate assessment valuations for real estate within Lackawanna County, does not maintain market valuation of real estate within the City. Complaint, 420, 21. The Complaint avets that the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board maintains the total market valuation of real estate located within the City.

Complaint, 422. Plaintiffs allege that according to the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board, the total market valuation of all property in the City in 2015 was $2,273,875,550.00. Complaint, 23. The Complaint outlines the familiar formula utilized in calculating real estate taxes that one mil is the equivalent of one dollar for every one thousand dollats in assessed value. Thus, 12 mils equates to $12 for every $1,000 in assessed value. Complaint, 426.

Taking the 2015 market valuation for real estate in the City as certified by the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board and factoring that figure by 12 mils, Plaintiffs allege that the aggregate amount of all Act 511 taxes the City imposed in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 could not exceed $27,286,506.00. Complaint, 27, 28. The Defendants have not seriously challenged these figures. Nor have the Defendants offered any substantive challenge to the standing of certain Plaintiffs. While fewer than all the named Plaintiffs were deposed, Defendants do not challenge the residency of those who gave deposition testimony. For those named Plaintiffs, then, standing is not an issue.

See the full lawsuit below.

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Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver

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