WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton calls it a hard budget year.
He revealed the details of the proposed 2014 spending plan to Newswatch 16 at his office in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday.
The $127. 5 million budget calls for an 8 percent tax hike. That would mean someone who owns a $75,000 home will pay about $33 more a year, for a total of $432 a year.
“It’s not easy to ask this, but we are doing absolutely everything we can to maintain the service delivery that we’re known for and keep the doors open while we meet all of our obligations,” said Lawton.
Taxpayers were not thrilled with news of the potential increase.
“More taxes, more money, it’s crazy! Completely, totally insane. I’m thinking about moiving, that’s what I’m thinking about,” said Jim, who lives in Kingston.
Last year, there was no tax hike in Luzerne County, but there were about 50 county layoffs and there could be more than 50 next year, too.
Lawton said there is a $2.7 million gap in the budget. He is hoping county workers agree to cover that gap by contributing more to their benefits, but if they do not, there could be layoffs.
In Lackawanna County, the 2014 proposed budget is about $96 million, with no tax hike and no proposed layoffs.
“No tax increase is always a good thing. I congratulate the authorities for being able to make that decision. Of course you’re always worried about services taking a hit, hopefully that won’t detract or take from any of the services we currently have,” said Dave Davis who lives in Scranton.
Both proposed budgets must be approved.
Luzerne County Council is scheduled to vote on December 10.