Businessman Loses Tax Appeals On Parking Garage, Office Building In Downtown Scranton

November 28, 2018 GMT

SCRANTON — Businessman John Basalyga lost a tax appeal on his Electric City Parking Garage downtown, but will appeal further to Lackawanna County Court, his attorney said Tuesday. “As I see it, we have no choice but to seek an appeal” in court, said attorney Patrick Lavelle, who represents Basalyga in this matter. The Lackawanna County Board of Assessment Appeals recently denied the appeal of the $503,150 tax assessment on the commercial parking garage along Spruce Street and Penn Avenue, owned by a Basalyga firm, Electric City Parking LLC. During an appeal hearing on Oct. 30, Basalyga, Lavelle and appraisers contended the garage should get a reduction in taxes because it’s worth only $25,000. Basalyga’s firm bought the garage in August 2016 for $1 from the tax-exempt Scranton Parking Authority, as part of the city’s monetization of parking garages and meters that intertwined parking at the Marketplace at Steamtown, also owned by Basalyga. He initially appealed the parking garage assessment in fall 2016 and sought tax exemption for it, but the appeals board rejected that appeal. In June, Scranton resident Marie Schumacher discovered the county assessor’s office had not changed the tax classification of the garage from exempt to taxable. The office corrected the error for 2017 and 2018, and Basalyga’s firm was sent tax bills totaling nearly $255,000, prompting the appeal. But the county appeals board disagreed and denied the appeal two weeks ago, agency Deputy Director John Foley said. Basalyga’s appraisal of the garage dated Oct. 19 pegged the “as is” fair market value at $25,000. Because the garage is operated by other entities that also operate the mall parking and city parking garages under one umbrella, the Electric City garage does not generate income for Basalyga. Instead, he gets a flat, $19,000-a-month rent payment, over a 40-year lease term, from the city/outside operators. He pays garage taxes, utilities and insurance, and also is responsible for long-term repairs. Only 40 percent of the 658-space garage is usable because of many years of past neglect. The appraisal also cited numerous structural deficiencies of the 276,638-square-foot garage that has two sections. Meanwhile, a different company of Basalyga’s, JBAS Realty LLC, also recently lost an unrelated, separate appeal of the $150,500 tax assessment on a former Delta Medix office building at 225 Penn Ave. Basalyga’s realty firm bought that one-story building at 225 Penn Ave. in April 2018 for $400,000, as part of having Delta Medix move into the Marketplace at Steamtown. It’s not clear whether Basalyga intends to appeal this denial. Efforts were unsuccessful to contact Basalyga or a different attorney who handled the tax appeal on 225 Penn Ave. Contact the writer: jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter