Hazleton’s 2013 Budget

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HAZLETON -- The city of Hazleton has a midnight deadline to have a budget in place. Both council and the mayor have approved separate budgets. The question now, does either of them apply with the deadline only hours away?

For most people, New Year's means a fresh start, a clean slate. For Hazleton, it appears the New Year will mean a big hike in property taxes.

Mayor Joe Yannuzzi's budget called for an 83% hike in property taxes, about $200 more a year for the average homeowner. City council tried to amend that plan.

"The amendments failed. The deadline is today, so once they go past today, it is of my opinion that the budget I presented would go into effect," said Mayor Joe Yannuzzi.

Last week, council members did vote for a spending plan of their own, calling for a much smaller tax increase.

However, Mayor Yannuzzi said council did not act properly. By default, his budget takes affect at midnight.

He says not having a budget in place would cause big problems.

"Every piece of the operation here might be affected by not having a budget in place, and not having a taxing plan in place and not having the money to continue, so we have a problem," said Yannuzzi.

Earlier today, Newswatch 16 spoke with two Hazleton City Council members. One said he believed that council's budget would take affect at midnight. The other felt that neither budget would go into effect.

However, Mayor Yannuzzi said he heard from the city's attorney, who agreed that the mayor's spending plan, and that 83% hike in property taxes, will take effect at midnight.

The next Hazleton city council meeting is set for Thursday.