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Businesses Sign Petition to Boycott Scranton Taxes

SCRANTON — Dozens of business owners in Scranton have signed a petition to boycott two controversial taxes. Gary St. Fleur is not a Scranton business owne...
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SCRANTON -- Dozens of business owners in Scranton have signed a petition to boycott two controversial taxes.

Gary St. Fleur is not a Scranton business owner. He's an activist who runs a blog called Save Scranton, and he's angry about a tax that businesses in the city have to pay.

"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.

St. Fleur started circulating a petition. It says signers will boycott the city's business privilege and mercantile taxes. In two weeks' time, 70 businesses signed.

"The idea that they're willing to stand up, to me, is a big deal," St. Fleur added.

Pete Ventura's shop Coney Island Lunch on Lackawanna Avenue is one of them.

"Now with this petition and everything, I don't know if anything is ever going to happen out of it but  I'm pretty sure the city knows we all hate it," Ventura said.

Ventura and many of the businesses on the petition see it as only symbolic and don't plan to boycott the taxes on gross income.

Newswatch 16 was hard-pressed to find a business on that petition that actually plans to forgo paying its taxes. All of the business owners we spoke to said they just want to send city hall a message.

"I think 3% off the top to the City of Scranton for a business privilege tax is kind of high, and  I  would like to know what privileges  I'm afforded for said tax. That's why I signed it," said Damian Biancarelli who owns Guy's Barber Shop on Spruce Street.

He hopes signing the petition will lead to a change in the city's tax structure.

"70 businesses, reputable businesses, are all unhappy about something, and I think if the Mayor sees that, I think it certainly should open up some dialogue," Biancarelli added.

City officials said they are ready for a dialogue with business owners and that the administration has already started studying whether to change the business privilege and mercantile taxes.