Senate Leaders To Make Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders agreed on Friday to make a final effort to prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff,” setting off intense bargaining over Americans’ tax rates as a New Year’s Eve deadline looms.

With only days left to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession, two Senate veterans will try to forge a deal that has eluded the White House and Congress for months.

Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” an agreement could be found.  But neither side appeared to give much ground at a White House meeting of congressional leaders on Friday.

What they did agree on was to task Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, who heads the chamber’s Republican minority, with reaching a budget agreement by Sunday at the latest.

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Lackawanna County Eliminates Four More Jobs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Lackawanna County is eliminating four more positions, bringing to 28 the number of county jobs slashed over the past two months to help balance the 2013 budget.

Cutting the four positions will save $184,837 in salaries and benefits next year, according to figures provided by the commissioners’ office.

Chief of staff Maria Elkins said Thursday the latest cuts include the elimination of a secretary’s position in the Department of Human Resources, which will result in a layoff.

Two vacant positions will also be cut, effective at the end of the year, she said. They are an accountant position in the treasurer’s office and a clerk position in the clerk of judicial records office.

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City Of Reading Budget Proposal Delayed

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s administration has delayed until Wednesday presenting its proposed 2013 city budget, which was expected Monday, to deal with some recently projected higher bills for next year.

The move follows discussions with the city’s outside Act 47 consultants Sunday, which led to an order at a department directors meeting Monday morning for each area – from the departments to City Council to agencies such as the Charter Board – to propose a certain dollar amount of extra budget cuts.

The city charter requires Spencer to present the proposed budget at least 90 days before Jan. 1. That deadline is Wednesday.

“We are in a very challenging fiscal and economic environment,” Spencer said in a statement. “I have asked my team to take some additional time to adjust their spending plans and refine revenue calculations so we can present a preliminary budget to City Council that is achievable and balanced, and represents fair value for taxpayers.”

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