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.

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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.

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