A judge in Lackawanna County, Pa., cleared distressed city Scranton to triple its local services tax.

John Braxton, visiting from Philadelphia, rejected a petition by an eight-person taxpayer group that said state law caps local taxes and Scranton had exceeded its limit.

Scranton, the 76,000-population county seat in northeast Pennsylvania, must reapply for the tax annually. This marks the third straight year of court approval.

"Nothing in this order shall prevent the [taxpayer group] from objecting to the imposition of this tax at the appropriate and through the proper procedural mechanisms," Braxton wrote.

The taxpayer group's attorney, John McGovern, said further appeals would focus on other city taxes.

"The judge kicked the can down the road for a few months," he said. "Now instead of arguing about a $2 million illegal tax, we will be arguing about $10 million in illegal taxes."  

Scranton officials have said this year's hike from $52 to $156 for every person working within city limits that earns at least $15,600 is essential for its recovery and legal under the state-sponsored Act 47 workout program for distressed communities. The tax applies equally to residents and non-residents.

Scranton, the 76,000-population seat of Lackawanna County in northeast Pennsylvania, has participated in the Act 47 program since 1992

The eight taxpayers, all residents, are Nicholas Gettel, Gary St. Fleur, Casey Durkin, Damian Biancerelli, Rich Johnson, Ethan Green, Angela Gilgallon and Michele McGovern.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.