WILKES-BARRE -- When you are on a fixed income and own your house, the last thing you want to hear is the possibility of taxes going up. But property owners in Wilkes-Barre could see their taxes go up by 25 percent if the mayor gets his way. The new budget he released Friday calls for that increase.
It means about $216 more a year for a property assessed at $80,000.
"We need to do that to balance the budget,” said city administrator Ted Wampole.
City officials blame the increase on the previous mayor and rising costs for salaries, benefits, and pensions.
“Those are tough decisions; we didn't just arbitrarily come up with that number. We worked, we whittled stuff down to what we could,” Wampole said.
It's not enough whittling for these homeowners playing bingo at the senior center in Wilkes-Barre, all who are on fixed incomes.
“Utility bills keep going up, the water, how do you expect all the older people to pay all this? They're going to lose their homes!” said John Lawzano of Wilkes-Barre.
Luzerne County officials also released a proposed budget this week. It includes a four percent tax increase. For homeowners in Wilkes-Barre, the timing of both potential increases feels like a one-two punch.
“Their pays are increasing, now ours, and they keep taking it off of us,” said one woman.
“There goes my home! I can't keep on doing it, the increases. I can't keep on doing it,” said another woman.
Both increases on a combined $100,000 property would cost a homeowner almost $250 more a year.
Wilkes-Barre City Council and Luzerne County Council both say they're still reviewing their proposed budgets. Both will have public comment sessions before voting on it later this year.