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City Leaders Huddle after Court Ruling on Taxes

SCRANTON, Pa. — A judge sided with residents in the city of Scranton in a lawsuit claiming the city has been overtaxing its residents for years. The decis...

SCRANTON, Pa. -- A judge sided with residents in the city of Scranton in a lawsuit claiming the city has been overtaxing its residents for years. The decision could be economically devastating for the city.

Mayor Wayne Evans and members of his administration spent hours inside City Hall on Tuesday, discussing the city's options moving forward.

Evans says the city will appeal the judge's decision. He's expected to file that appeal Wednesday, extending what's already been a nearly three-year battle.

A judge sided with a group of residents who claim the city has been overtaxing people for years to the tune of about $10 million a year. That lawsuit was filed in 2017.

In his ruling, Lackawanna County Judge James Gibbons ordered the city to set aside about $50 million in tax revenue from 2015 to 2019 because it exceeded a limit set by the state in collecting certain taxes.

Mayor Evans told Newswatch 16 the city does not have that money to put aside, calling it totally unrealistic. But he said this decision was not unexpected.

The judge also ordered the city to significantly lower those taxes going forward. They include the local service tax, the mercantile tax, among others. Everyone who works in the city has to pay the local service tax.

The city says it will appeal the decision.

Gary St. Fleur, the lead plaintiff in the suit, tells Newswatch 16 he hopes this lawsuit causes the city government to realize it needs to make structural changes and cut spending.

In a statement, he said, "Enough is enough. It's the Scranton government's turn to make sacrifices. The people of Scranton have sacrificed enough. They have no more to give."

Mayor-elect Paige Cognetti says she and her transition team will be focusing on this issue as she takes office.

She said in a statement, "My team and I are digesting the decision that came down last night. We are working to collect the facts and get a full picture of how the city got to this point. We will take our time to study and consider possible options."