York City Commuter Tax ‘A Very Real Possibility’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A majority of York City Council members said they are willing to consider authorizing a new tax in 2015 that would reach into the pockets of many more people.

The distressed pension earned income tax — more commonly known as the commuter tax — has been on the city’s menu of revenue-generating options for the past several years.

But, so far, city officials have been able to balance York’s budgets without wading into the controversial waters of taxing commuters’ earnings.

That might change next year.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26465818/york-city-commuter-tax-very-real-possibility

Business, Workers Flee Electric City Taxes

picture-0571A decade ago when real estate up-and-comer Charles Hibble looked for a headquarters for his business, Scranton was a natural choice.

He invested $1.2 million converting an aging building on Penn Avenue into modern offices and apartments. Mr. Hibble accepted real estate tax and parking cost increases and the mercantile tax as costs of doing business. When city leaders began talking about a commuter tax in 2012, the owner of Weichert Realty Hibble & Associates reached his breaking point and moved out.

“I was getting pressure from my employees, who could work from anywhere — their homes or cars,” he said. “They didn’t want to pay another tax.”

Mr. Hibble’s move prefaced an employer exodus from the city. After being kicked around and eventually shot down in court, the commuter tax came back in the proposal of consultant Henry Amoroso, who cited a state law that allows municipalities to impose a commuter tax to bolster distressed pension funds. Scranton City Council swiftly approved the local income tax on commuters, which would cost employees earning $50,000 as much as $375 a year. Combined with a proposed increase in the emergency service tax – yet another withdrawal from the wages of commuters — the cost of having a job in the city has mounted.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/business-workers-flee-electric-city-taxes-1.1733479

Local Services Tax Could Triple Under Act 47 Plan

HARRISBURG — People who work in Scranton and other distressed municipalities could see a $52 annual tax triple under a new Senate amendment.

Lawmakers want to steer Act 47 municipalities to levy a higher local services tax as an alternative to a commuter tax.

The distressed cities legislation cleared a first Senate hurdle Wednesday with a comprehensive amendment added by the Local Government Committee.

The committee’s action is the latest step in an effort to overhaul the Act 47 program for fiscally distressed municipalities. Scranton, Nanticoke, West Hazleton and Plymouth Twp. have Act 47 status. Shamokin is seeking to enter the program.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/tax-could-triple-under-act-47-plan-1.1705643

York City Mayor Proposes No Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

York City Mayor Kim Bracey is proposing a 2014 budget that does not increase property taxes.

The proposal is now in the hands of the York City Council, which has scheduled two hearings in early December to discuss the budget. It is scheduled to be adopted at the council’s Tuesday, Dec. 17 meeting.

“This was a tough budget,” Bracey said Tuesday at a press conference.

The city’s costs continue to rise, and revenues haven’t kept pace, Bracey said. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s “antiquated” local-government system greatly limits the options for officials in third-class cities like York, she said.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24553629/york-city-mayor-proposes-no-tax-increase

Deficit To Get Millions Worse In Future, Reading City Council Told

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City Controller Christian Zale on Monday pressed his case, again, to City Council: Unless the city makes some drastic changes, it’s facing a $35 million cumulative deficit by 2017.

However, those changes can’t include bigger property tax hikes; Zale said his projection already assumes the city raises the property tax by 5 percent in each of the next four years.

But he said the tax increases cut the deficit by only $10 million.  Without them, the deficit rises to $45 million.

“Me being conservative, I tried to be as gloomy as I could,” Zale told council.  “And quite frankly, I don’t want to hear (that) we’ll approach that and try to solve it when that time comes.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=479276

PEL: Scranton Needs More Than 12% Tax Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scranton‘s state-designated recovery coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, has told city officials they need to raise property taxes next year higher than the 12 percent that the city budget for 2013 proposes. Exactly how much higher was not stated.

In a letter received Thursday, PEL Executive Director Gerald Cross notes that the city has not dedicated a tax millage toward paying for the city’s second unfunded debt package approved by a court this year, of $9.75 million. In that case, Judge Peter O’Brien, a senior visiting judge from Monroe County, on Oct. 31 ordered that a tax millage be dedicated to paying back this unfunded debt.

It was the same arrangement the city sought and received in January, when a different judge, Senior Monroe County Judge Jerome Cheslock, approved the city’s first unfunded debt, of $9.85 million, and ordered that this amount be paid back with a dedicated tax millage over 10 years.

The first unfunded debt package translated into the 12 percent tax hike in the proposed budget for next year, city officials have said.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/pel-scranton-needs-more-than-12-tax-hike-1.1413187

Scranton City Council Introduces Budget, Takes Flak Over Pay Raises

In a split vote, Scranton City Council on Thursday introduced a $109.7 million budget for 2013 that contains a 12 percent property tax increase for residents and hikes in several other taxes, including a hoped-for commuter tax.

The council also took flak from some residents for hefty raises ranging between 19 and 33 percent in the budget for six employees, including council and administration solicitors, fire chief, business administrator and two administrative employees.

“This city is in such financial disaster. We’re close to bankruptcy and we’re giving raises up as high as 33 percent? It’s just an outrage,” resident Les Spindler told council. “This just cannot happen. You’re not going to raise my taxes and give these other people raises.”

Resident Tom Ungvarsky added, “I hope city council will reconsider and do what’s right by the residents.”

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-introduces-budget-takes-flak-over-pay-raises-1.1410310

Reading City Council Approves Budget, Tax Hikes

Editor’s note:  For those folks in Pottstown, please note that Reading is 4 times as large as Pottstown, yet their budget is only twice as big.

City Council on Monday adopted a $77 million budget for 2013, as well as the increases in property, local earned income and commuter taxes needed to make it work.

• The property tax will rise by 9.45 percent, or 1.355 mills, to a total of 15.689 mills.  An owner with a property assessed at $50,000 will pay an extra $67.75.

• The local earned income tax on city residents will rise by 0.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent.  That rate includes the Reading School District‘s share.

• And the commuter tax will rise by the same 0.2 points, to 0.3 percent.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=431486

Scranton Mayor Proposes $109 Million Budget For 2013; 12 Percent Tax Hike

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty presented Thursday to city council a $109.6 million budget that contains a 12 percent real-estate tax hike.

Though formally proposed by the mayor, the budget had been prepared jointly by his administration and the council.  Cooperation between both sides on the budget proposal was a change from the prior two budgets that were marked by heated battles, council revisions, mayoral vetoes and council overrides of vetoes.

Read the Budget HERE

“This is the first step in our financial blueprint as we move the city forward, and I appreciate the cooperation of council,” Mr. Doherty said.

A precursor of the budget had been hashed out earlier this year during the mayor/council war over revising the city’s Act 47 recovery plan, which called for a 12 percent real estate tax hike on city residents and various other tax increases and/or new taxes, such as commuter and amusement taxes.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-proposes-109-million-budget-for-2013-12-percent-tax-hike-1.1404066

Reading Considers Consultant’s Proposal For Budget

The city of Reading and its outside consultants have come up with a new tax plan using a complex and untested state law to pay for the 49 percent hike in pension contributions the state is requiring it to make in 2013.

Essentially, Act 205 says cities facing sudden dramatic pension-cost increases can levy a so-called distressed pension tax, either as a separate property tax or a separate earned income tax. But every nickel collected has to be used to pay off that obligation, not spent anywhere else.

At City Council’s Wednesday night budget session, the consultants recommended applying it to the earned-income tax – using the same rate for both residents and commuters – since the administration and council don’t like the 15 percent property tax hike that’s already in the budget.

Gordon Mann, a consultant for Public Financial Management who is leading the team, said the tax cap is based on a complex formula comparing pension contributions and city payroll for three years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=424643

Scranton City Council To Introduce Commuter Tax

Scranton City Council will be voting Thursday to introduce a commuter tax, according to a public notice issued today.

A commuter tax – a 1 percent earned-income tax on nonresidents of Scranton who work in the city – is one of the city’s key alternatives to property tax hikes under its revised Act 47 recovery plan adopted Aug. 23.

A 1 percent commuter tax is expected to raise $2.5 million next year and $4 million in 2014 and 2015, city officials have said.

The council ordinance would propose to increase the non-resident earned-income tax from the current 1 percent to 2 percent, while maintaining the earned-income tax of 2.4 percent on city residents, the public notice states.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-to-introduce-commuter-tax-1.1384991

Reading Officials Push For Increases In Taxes On Workers

Meeting today in talks to close a $5.7 million gap in the 2013 budget, the city administration and City Council urged the consultants who oversee Reading’s finances to reconsider their ban on raising local earned-income and commuter taxes.

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I don’t see how we can survive we don’t get that revenue,” Councilman Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. said.

The city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan, written by the state-paid consultants and adopted by the city in 2010, calls for the earned-income tax on residents to remain at 1.9 percent in 2013.

It also calls for the earned-income tax on suburbanites working in the city, the commuter tax, to remain at 0.1 percent next year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=419224

Scranton City Council Threatens University Of Scranton With Zoning Roadblocks

Editor’s note:  This is just irresponsible and shortsighted.  The University of Scranton brings jobs, money and prestige to Scranton; as well as a reason to go downtown.  Scranton City Council needs to get their act together instead of retaliating against a good corporate citizen.

Miffed over the University of Scranton’s recent lawsuit against the city over its new parking tax, city council on Thursday threatened to oppose any zoning variance that the college may need from the city for various improvements, such as dorms or parking lots.

Asked by council President Janet Evans to address this issue, council solicitor Boyd Hughes said he was dismayed that the university sued the city over the parking tax, because over the years the city has facilitated the university’s growth.  Rather, the college should be donating millions of dollars to the city, he said.

The university’s growth since the 1960s stemmed from what was known as the “University Plan” approved many years ago by the Scranton Redevelopment Authority, which involved the SRA condemning properties for university expansion, he said.  But the college has since spread beyond its “institutional district” into residential areas, Mr. Hughes claimed.

The university has received variances from the city zoning board for improvements such as a dorm and parking areas in residential areas that “should have never been granted” by the zoning board.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-threatens-university-of-scranton-with-zoning-roadblocks-1.1376796

Scranton City Council Sets Public Hearing On Recovery Plan

English: Downtown , USA

English: Downtown , USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scranton City Council on Thursday tabled a revised recovery plan but set a public hearing on the proposal for next week and a vote for adoption for the following week.

Council President Janet Evans said efforts are under way to further revise the consensus recovery plan.  It was reached July 27 by her and Mayor Chris Doherty after months of stalemate, but raised concerns from the city’s Act 47 recovery coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, that much of its revenue was speculative.

“There are adjustments being made to it, and it’s ongoing,” Mrs. Evans said.  “I’m hoping that all changes are complete prior to the public hearing.”

At the Aug. 2 meeting, Mrs. Evans said the mayor/council consensus plan was a “take it-or-leave it” proposition for PEL.  Asked after the meeting if she had backed away from that stance, Mrs. Evans said no.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-council-sets-public-hearing-on-recovery-plan-1.1357001

Easton Moves Forward With Commuter Tax

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easton City Council approved a commuter tax Wednesday, raising the earned income tax for more than 10,000 people who work in Easton but live outside the city an average of $127.

City officials estimate the new tax will generate $1.35 million, which Easton can use only toward offsetting a $1.8 million increase in pension obligations. The commuter tax, which takes effect Jan. 1, raises the earned income tax for non-Easton residents from 1 percent to 1.75 percent, the same rate city residents pay.

Council’s 6-1 vote came after an impassioned debate between Mayor Sal Panto Jr. and Councilman Jeff Warren, who wrote a recent op-ed piece opposing the commuter tax. Panto accused Warren, the only council member to vote against the tax, of political grandstanding.

“You keep saying you’re against this but you haven’t laid out any alternatives,” Panto told Warren. “What are you coming up with? What is your solution?”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-commuter-tax-vote-20120808,0,1762718.story

State Extends Deadline For Scranton Recovery Plan After PEL Raises Concerns

Hours after receiving a “rejection” of its revised recovery plan by a state-appointed recovery coordinator, Scranton City Council on Thursday forged ahead with introducing the plan anyway.

The council voted 3-1 to introduce an ordinance to implement the revised plan that was agreed upon last Friday by Mayor Chris Doherty, council President Janet Evans and council finance chairman Frank Joyce.

The plan then was sent for review to the city’s Act 47 recovery coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, which also would have to OK the plan before it would take effect.

On Thursday, shortly before the council’s meeting, PEL issued a letter to the city detailing numerous concerns about the recovery plan, chiefly that much of its revenue sources that are alternatives to real estate taxes – such as a commuter tax and sales taxes and significantly increased voluntary donations from nonprofits – are not guaranteed to occur. PEL wants to the city to identify backup revenues sources should speculative revenue sources never materialize.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/state-extends-deadline-for-scranton-recovery-plan-after-pel-raises-concerns-1.1353735

Scranton Commuter Tax Eyed In Compromise Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just when Colleen Rhue thought she was out, Scranton is trying to pull her back in.

The downtown office worker recently moved to Moosic to escape the city’s 3.4 percent wage tax on residents.

“Now it looks like the money I saved from moving, they want to take from me,” Ms. Rhue said Tuesday, reacting to a possible 1 percent commuter tax included in the city’s latest recovery plan proposal.

While the tax will be decided through the courts, support for the levy seems strong among city residents, who pay for police and fire protection and infrastructure.  Support drops off at the city limits.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/commuter-tax-eyed-in-compromise-plan-1.1353047