HAZLETON -- Homeowners in Hazleton could soon be paying more in property taxes.
Tuesday afternoon, the mayor proposed a 20 percent increase to help balance the city's budget.
In addition to raising property taxes, the mayor of Hazleton is also calling to increase some current fees and create new ones. The mayor calls the changes necessary.
Mayor Jeff Cusat announced property taxes need to increase to maintain the same level of services for the city. The tax hike would mean about $56 more a year for the average homeowner.
"We need to stay status quo, that's all this does is keep the same number of employees," said Mayor Jeff Cusat, (R) Hazleton.
For the mayor's property tax increase to go into effect, city council needs to back him up, but some members are not on board.
"The taxpayers cannot afford it," said Grace Cuozzo (D) Hazleton city council. "You want my opinion? They can't afford it. I've already been told, 'The property taxes go up, people are moving!'"
The mayor also wants to increase parking tickets from $10 to $20. He also wants to create a new tow recovery fee. It'd cost you $50 more to get your car back."
Mariveo Chavez owns a clothing shop on Broad Street in Hazleton. She believes more fees could slow down or even hurt the redevelopment of Hazleton.
"I think that will be a hit on the downtown businesses," said Chavez. "We are already suffering the pain for people not coming downtown to buy because they are getting fined all the time!"
Hazleton city council is still reviewing the mayor's proposed budget and what it means for taxpayers. A budget needs to be in place by the end of the year.