SCRANTON — The mayor of Scranton is set to release his budget proposal for next year Thursday night.
The budget proposal that Mayor Chris Doherty will announce at city council won’t have a lot of surprises because it can’t. In order for the city to get loan money it needed for this years budget, city leaders needed to write a recovery plan that lays out three years of tax hikes.
Mayor Doherty and city council approved that recovery plan together in August and the mayor said they also worked together to come up with this budget proposal for next year.
As called for in the recovery plan, the 2013 budget includes a 12 percent property tax increase but Doherty has said there will be no layoffs in the new year. But, that all hinges on a proposed one percent commuter tax that still needs approval from the courts. If the tax on people who work in city of Scranton but live outside is not approved, this proposed budget may change.
Mayor Doherty hopes his joint 2013 budget with city council will restore confidence in the people of Scranton.
“We come at government from different perspectives, but we both love this city, and we both want to do what’s best for this city, and I think this budget is an example of that,” said Mayor Chris Doherty of Scranton.
All city police and fire department jobs are intact, but as called for in the recovery plan, property taxes will go up 12% and should continue at that rate for three years.
“It’s going to be a real problem for basically the owner that’s on a limited income. The 12% the first year won’t be a problem, but by the third year it will be,” said Jerry Chazan, a property owner.
“I think we can live with that. Did I expect it to happen? I was hoping it didn’t happen, but I understand it’s got to happen. I just feel bad for the people who can’t afford it. I’m one of them, but what are you going to do? You gotta pay it,” said Joe Veccina of Scranton.
The tax increases are part of the plan to pay back the city’s debts. The 2013 budget does include loans, but Mayor Doherty said that money is already in the bank, so the days of missed bills and no paychecks are hopefully in the past.
Scranton’s city council is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.