Several city officials heralded the city property tax bills that were mailed out recently with an average 20 percent savings for many property owners.
The homestead exemption passed in November as part of the Home Rule Charter benefits property owners that live in their homes.
City tax bills are coming out now and we're happy to report that if you look at your statement, you'll see the homestead exclusion, which we passed last year is included on your tax bill, said Councilman Mike Lombardo. So, for the first time in decades, property owners who live in their homes have seen a significant decrease in their city real estate taxes.
Lombardo said an average savings is $102 or 20 percent.
We are believers that the property owners have been unfairly burdened over the past years and this is our first step in providing relief, Lombardo said.
Councilman Danny Argo, an opponent of the Home Rule Charter, voiced his praise at Wednesday night's council meeting.
Mine was $102 less than last year, Argo said. So that's very good.
Lombardo said city officials are proud to offer the reduction.
It was part of the pledge that we made in passing Home Rule, that residents would see a property tax reduction, Lombardo said. We're hopeful that next year we will be able to offer a more significant homestead reduction.
Luzerne County has a similar $10,000 homestead tax break given to roughly 84,000 residential property owners. The homestead exemption, which was wrapped in with the county reassessment, knocked $10,000 off an assessment for county taxes only, not school or municipal ones.
Less than 50 percent of the people that own property live in the city.
Mike Lombardo, the former mayor and a member of the city's Redevelopment Authority, praised the effort.
You guys were able to achieve something in this reduction that no other administration was able to achieve before you, Lombardo said. You should be proud.
In other business:
• Council agreed to send a proposal to Pittston Area School District to provide school resource officer coverage.
Specifics of the plan are yet to be worked out, but each police department in the district was asked to submit a proposal.
• Council passed several noise regulations, one that would shift enforcement responsibility in the downtown business district from the state Bureau of Liquor Enforcement to city police.
Pittston Police will now respond to calls about loud music and similar calls.
Lombardo said an effective noise ordinance was always missing from city regulations, and City Manager Joe Moskovitz added that the new responsibilities will provide greater noise violation response capabilities.
The ordinance stipulations covers the entire city and regulates car horns and alarms, radios and music players, yelling, shouting and whistling, animals and pets, drums and musical instruments and trash packers. Demolition and construction noise is permitted from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, except in an emergency. Other exemptions include parades, city vehicles operating on city business, excavations and repair of bridges, streets or highways at night when the work is unable to be performed during the day, school sports events and cheering, reasonable use of public address or loud speakers, fireworks under permit by the city and snow removal.
The ordinance can be enforced by the Pittston Police or the City Code Enforcement Officer.
Anyone found in violation faces up to a $300 fine, court costs, and/or 30 days in jail.
• Council passed an updated peddling and transient retail business ordinance. The original ordinance was from 1915 and city officials felt it was out of date.