Real estate tax increases set for 11 Luzerne County municipalities this year

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Nearly 100 Plymouth residents appeared at a November borough council meeting to weigh in on a 2018 real estate tax increase. The borough is among 11 Luzerne County municipalities with rising property taxes this year. - File photo

Eleven of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities are set to increase real estate taxes this year, according to a new report from the county treasurer’s office.

Pringle has the highest percentage increase: 66.7.

However, Hazleton’s planned increase of 30 percent will cost property owners the most because the city has a significantly higher tax rate than Pringle.

The owner of a $100,000 property in Pringle will pay $30 more, with the bill increasing from $45 to $75. The borough’s tax rate is rising from 0.45 to 0.75 mill. A mill is $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

By comparison, a $100,000 property owner in Hazleton will pay $134 more because the bill is set to increase from $451 to $585. The city’s tax rate will rise from 4.51 to 5.85 mills under a proposal set for final adoption Feb. 5.

The percentage increases in other municipalities, according to analysis of the county data:

• Dupont, 41 percent, from 1.2235 to 1.7250 mills

• Fairview Township, 35 percent, from 0.8500 to 1.15 mills

• Newport Township, 32 percent, from 2.34 to 3.09 mills

• Sugar Notch, 28.6 percent, from 3.5 to 4.5 mills

• Plymouth, 18 percent, from 5.7 to 6.72 mills

• Conyngham Township, 18 percent, from 1.3770 to 1.6270 mills

• Kingston, 8.8 percent, from 1.4250 to 1.55 mills

• Nescopeck Township, 6.6 percent, from 1.37 to 1.46 mills

• Jackson Township, 5 percent, from 2.02 to 2.12 mills

Wallet impact

After Hazleton, the highest payment increase is in Plymouth. The tax bill for the owner of a $100,000 property in the borough will increase $102, from $570 to $672.

Plymouth officials have maintained the increase was necessary to boost police coverage, allow the continued operation of three fire houses and keep the fire staff of two full-time drivers and 11 part-time firefighters.

Sugar Notch is next in line, with a $100 increase on a $100,000 property, bringing the total bill to $450.

Using a $100,000 property as a benchmark, tax bills will increase $75 in Newport Township, $50 in Dupont, $30 in Fairview Township, $25 in Conyngham Township, $12.50 in Kingston, $10 in Jackson Township and $9 in Nescopeck Township.

Jackson Township supervisors had said their increase was needed to promote a part-time police officer and road department employee to full-time status and keep up other programs.

In Fairview Township, officials earmarked the 0.3-mill increase for fire protection.

Fairview’s increase was originally sent to the treasurer’s office as 0.0003 mills, but a reporter pointed out this would amount to $0.03 more on a $100,000 property. Township officials are in the process of correcting the rate by eliminating the three zeroes after the decimal point before tax bills are mailed the end of next week.

Homestead break

Two municipalities discount real estate taxes for owner-occupied primary residences — Pittston city and Bear Creek Township, the treasurer’s office report shows.

Pittston officials increased the city discount, which is known as a homestead exemption, from $15,000 to $16,500 this year, the treasurer’s office said.

That means the owner of a $100,000 residence pays city real estate taxes on $83,500, saving $113 under the city tax rate of 6.85 mills.

Bear Creek Township has provided a $20,000 municipal homestead since 2016. A $100,000 residential property owner pays $35 instead of $44 with the break, based on the township’s millage of 0.4412.

Township officials added the break to help compensate for the county’s elimination of a county homestead, said township Supervisor Chairman Gary M. Zingaretti.

County residents had saved $45 to $57 on their county taxes annually from 2009 until the county-funded break ended in 2015.

The Bear Creek break has been funded by reducing the township’s capital reserve, Zingaretti said.

“It was received well. Our philosophy is to give homeowners a little bit of tax relief wherever we can,” Zingaretti said.

Slocum Township remains the only municipality with no local real estate taxes. Officials there are trying to survive on state liquid fuels funding and wage tax revenue.

Nearly 100 Plymouth residents appeared at a November borough council meeting to weigh in on a 2018 real estate tax increase. The borough is among 11 Luzerne County municipalities with rising property taxes this year.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_ply1_faa.jpgNearly 100 Plymouth residents appeared at a November borough council meeting to weigh in on a 2018 real estate tax increase. The borough is among 11 Luzerne County municipalities with rising property taxes this year. File photo

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.