English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Residents in parts of the greater Lehigh Valley are going to need a new score card to keep track of who their state lawmakers are.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld new legislative boundaries for the House and Senate as more geographically compact — and less politically gerrymandered — than a previous plan the justices rejected last year.
The new map goes into effect in the 2014 election. It includes a House seat and Senate seat that are moving to the region from Allegheny County because of population declines there.
In the House, the 22nd District is moving to Allentown to reflect the city’s rising Hispanic population in its downtown and south side. That newly created Allentown seat pushes Republican Justin Simmons, who has represented those city neighborhoods since 2010, into Emmaus, Upper Milford Township and Montgomery County.
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.”