“If the city cannot balance its budget without illegally taxing the Scranton people, it is absolute proof that the budget is not sustainable,” St. Fleur said. “Scranton has sold off all its public assets and raised taxes excessively with the result being a declining tax base and unfriendly business environment.
“The city needs to come to terms with present economic realities by cutting spending and lowering taxes. This is the only option for the city.”
St. Fleur has said the city should file Chapter 9 bankruptcy and has pushed for a related ballot measure.
“This is a major win for the taxpayers of Scranton that have been beset by mounting taxes and fees from the cash-strapped Scranton government,” said Gary St. Fleur, the leader of the taxpayer group and a Libertarian challenger to Democratic Mayor Bill Courtright.
St. Fleur said the city should file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. “This case forces the city to confront the reality that they have run out of time and that the Scranton taxpayer cannot bail out the city of Scranton,” he said.
“This victory confirms that Scranton financials are so dire that city officials have resorted to illegal taxation,” St. Fleur said. “It forces the city to confront the reality that they have run out of time and can no longer force taxpayers to bail out the city.”
St. Fleur contends there is virtually no recourse left except for the government to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and that lowering taxes and spending across the board is the only way to save Scranton from its economic depression — a point that he raises in the “Save Scranton” blog that he publishes. Bankruptcy would lessen the city financial burdens and allow for substantial tax cuts.
St. Fleur, “ecstatic” at the ruling, said it proves the city illegally taxed its residents for years because of the “gross incompetence” of the Courtright administration and the Pennsylvania Economy League. He dismissed the idea that the city can’t sharply cut its budget. It can, he said, through tough negotiations seeking contract concessions.
“He’s not willing to cut the salaries of the police and firefighters,” St. Fleur said. “I am.”
Some police and firefighters earn $100,000 or more annually because of overtime, then retire young and collect pensions while working elsewhere, he said. The city can afford salaries of $50,000 or $60,000 a year for police and firefighters.
“If the police and firefighters don’t want to work at those prices, we’ll find people who want to work at those levels,” St. Fleur said.
Between a wage tax, amusement tax, business privilege tax and more, resident Gary St. Fleur believes the city of Scranton is overtaxed.
That is why he and many others filed a lawsuit against city leaders.
“They thought they could do it with the law on their side but little did they know the law is not on their side,” St. Fleur said.
Judge James Gibbons’s ruling Friday does not end the case, but essentially guts the city’s defense of a lawsuit that alleges it illegally collected millions more in taxes than it was entitled to receive over the past few years, said John McGovern, attorney for eight residents who filed the suit.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to talk to the people and express my ideas and make people aware to the fact that the city can be managed much better,” St. Fleur said.
St. Fleur, 33, who writes the Save Scranton blog and is registered as an independent voter, and his seven fellow citizens unsuccessfully challenged in court the legality of the city’s $156 annual local services tax. When that failed, they challenged city taxes again on the theory that the city is violating a state cap on taxes.
“Obviously, I believe the city’s taxes are too high, and they’re driving out businesses,” he said.
Gary St. Fleur of Save Scarnton who is running for mayor talks to L.A. Tarone about the lawsuit that was filed against Scranton for collecting taxes above the legal limit in Pennsylvania.
The group, led by mayoral candidate Gary St. Fleur, filed the lawsuit March 2 in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.
According to the lawsuit, Scranton is taxing excessively under Pennsylvania Act 511. The plaintiffs also say the city’s most recent budget shows a $10 million overage.
“State law clearly states there is a cap to taxation through the Act 511 law,” Gary St. Fleur said in an interview at the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas in downtown Scranton on Tuesday. “If we do not win, that would allow any city to raise taxes in any amount it wants.”
“Our argument is that there is a limitation out there and the city can only tax up to a certain point. The city is taking the position, as a home rule charter, they can set rates at whatever rate they want including up to 100-percent on certain things and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” John McGovern, attorney for the residents said.
Activist Gary St. Fleur and several others filed a lawsuit against Scranton’s mayor for what they call the “illegal taxation.”
St. Fleur and his group Save Scranton have been the force behind a lawsuit that charges the city with illegally tripling the local service tax while neglecting to cut government spending through the renegotiation of extravagant employee contracts and retirement policies.
Here is an interview by Save Scranton’s Gary St. Fleur
“This is how we hold local government accountable,” said Gary St. Fleur. “They are doing these things and no one knows about a cap. It makes sense that there would be a cap because taxes become self-defeating. When they reach a certain rate, people cannot afford it.”
Interview on Sue Henry of Wilk News Radio
“They’re collecting these taxes at $156 and then claiming to go to court to get permission for it? It doesn’t make sense!” said Gary St. Fleur, who is opposed to the triple tax.
“The thing is, that they just go to a bar and talk about it amongst themselves. I said, we need to formalize this. We need to organize, and bring people together who all share the same interests and do something about it,” St. Fleur said.