SCRANTON — City council approved a 2013 budget during a meeting Thursday night.
Council members said they did their very best to keep the city out of bankruptcy and save taxpayers money, but because of a court ordered increase, they approved a $109 million budget with a 22% property tax increase.
That is 10% higher than the budget originally called for; the budget also does away with raises for some city employees including the fire chief and city finance director and solicitor.
Some residents said they appreciate the council’s efforts.
“I think it’s safe to say at times we were ready to pull the plug and throw in a towel and give up, but because of the dedicated officials in the city, we realized we had to come together and make difficult decisions,” said Doug Miller of Scranton.
Mayor Chris Doherty appeared before council with the city’s business administrator.
The mayor thanked council members for working with him to create the spending plan during what he called a fiscal crisis.
“The administration and the council worked very closely over the last several months and it’s through that cooperation we’ve overcome a tremendous amount of hurdles,” said Mayor Doherty.
The 2013 budget also calls for a one percent commuter tax.
A panel of judges will decide whether Scranton can indeed have a commuter tax.
Some said it is not fair.
“Don’t ask the people outside Scranton to clean up our mess. We made it, we have to live with it and we have to clean it up,” said Scranton resident Bob Bolus at the meeting.
Others said commuter tax or not, the spending plan is a bad one, one that sets the city up for failure.
“The 22% doesn’t even address any of the shortfalls in regards to anything to do with the budget,” said Lee Morgan of Scranton.
The budget will now go to the mayor to be signed.
He said he will do that before Saturday when the budget must be officially approved.
As for the judges’ decision on the commuter tax, city leaders said there could be a decision as early as Friday.