HAZLETON – City council Wednesday night tabled a proposed budget for 2013 that would have increased property taxes by 83 percent. That figure would reflect a jump in property taxes from 3.11 mills to 5.69 mills.
A property valued at $100,000, generating $311 in property taxes in 2012, would generate $569 in 2013 if the proposed budget passed.
Mayor Joe Yannuzzi said the last in a series of $600,000 annual payments from the developer reclaiming mine land on the city's southwest side was received in 2012, leaving a sizable gap in the 2013 budget.
President Jim Perry said council had two options: a tax increase or reduction in expenditures.
It is unlikely that the proposed budget will pass in its present form, said Perry. We need to come to some compromise.
Perry said some items on the budget are fixed.
Pension costs have risen and will continue to rise, he said.
A $426,000 payment on a previous loan will also be due during the upcoming year.
Council member Jean Mope suggested reopening city employees' union contracts in order to save jobs in the long term.
City employees may have to make concessions in the short term, but in the long term, they will continue to have jobs, said Mope.
Resident Sylvia Thomas requested council look into money owed them by the Don Wilkinson Agency, which until recently had collected the city's taxes. The agency went out of business because of its failure to collect and distribute taxes in a timely way.
Several residents also suggested sale or transfer of the city airport would benefit the city financially.
The airport has always been a money loser for the city, said Dee Deakus.
Council also discussed selling water authority property.
Perry announced the next regular meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. He said that an additional public work session will be announced.