Scranton Mayor Proposes 56 Percent Property Tax Increase; 69 Percent Garbage Fee Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

With wary banks watching Scranton‘s finances closely, Mayor Chris Doherty today proposed a $130.5 million budget for 2014 that would dramatically raise real estate taxes, the garbage collection fee and parking-meter rates and penalties.

Read the budget HERE

A real estate tax increase of 56.7 percent would be one of the largest, if not the largest, tax hikes ever in the city. A trash collection fee increase of 68.5 percent – from the current $178 a year to $300 a year – would be the largest garbage fee hike ever.

The large spikes are all necessary to close a $20 million operating deficit for 2014 and restore the city’s creditworthiness with lenders, Mr. Doherty said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-proposes-56-percent-property-tax-increase-69-percent-garbage-fee-hike-1.1586481

PEL: Scranton Faces $20 Million Deficit Next Year; Needs To Raise Taxes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton city government’s budget outlook for next year continues to worsen as the city now faces a possible deficit of nearly $20 million for 2014, according to the city’s financial-recovery coordinator.

That state-appointed Act 47 coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League, also urges the city to craft a “realistic and responsible” budget for next year that closes the structural deficit and lists as options unspecified hikes in both the real-estate (property) and earned-income (wage) taxes, and an increase in the city’s annual garbage fee.

“I think the letter speaks for itself,” Mr. Cross said in a phone interview. “It shows where the city is in terms of recovery-plan progress and shows the challenges that we always spoke of for 2014 being a challenging year.”

Read the letter here

City Business Administrator Gina McAndrew said the 2014 budget is in the works. She would not rule out any increases in taxes or fees but declined to say what may be under consideration.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/pel-scranton-faces-20-million-deficit-next-year-needs-to-raise-taxes-1.1566385

Bethlehem City Council Passes $71 Million Budget With 7 Percent Tax Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

In a budget where rising pension costs framed the debate, Bethlehem City Council on Thursday adopted a $71 million budget that includes a 7 percent property tax hike and other revenue including a tax on certain concert tickets.

But what it doesn’t include is $500,000 from a citywide trash hauler, a proposal by Mayor John Callahan that drew public backlash.

Instead, council cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from the budget and accepted Callahan’s suggestions on refinancing the landfill debt.  Council also accepted the administration’s updated revenue projections that show the earned income tax and casino fees as bringing in more money than when Callahan first released his budget proposal last month.

Councilman Robert Donchez acknowledged the budget isn’t perfect but a lot of work was put into it.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-bethlehem-council-passes-budget-20121221,0,6831964.story

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

Nonprofits Give More Money, Manpower To Reading

Editor’s note:  Sometimes you just have to ask!

From a $10,000 gift to Reading police to clearing a trash-clogged storm drain, the city’s three-month effort to get more local nonprofit groups to voluntarily pay either cash or services in lieu of taxes is paying off.

The city has received $27,000 in new payments it didn’t get last year from more than a dozen churches and several other groups.

It’s also gotten more than 9,000 new volunteer work hours in more than 30 new service projects including more than two dozen cleanups – worth $65,000 at minimum wage – from local groups.

“We have received an overwhelming response,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said.

Read more:http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=409729