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Scranton Council Approves First Reading Of Proposed No-Tax-Increase Budget

SCRANTON -- For the first time in at least decade, it appears the city of Scranton will not have a tax increase.

During a city council meeting Thursday night, as the first reading of the proposed 2017 budget was introduced, both council and city residents expressed both shock and excitement.

“The no tax increase, on that I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said council member Tim Perry.

“I think everyone was very happy to hear there will not be a tax increase in this year's budget and it really represents a turning point for the city in the last decade,” said council member Pat Rogan.

“I've been coming to these meetings for 14 years now and this is the first year in all these years we haven't had a tax hike,” said city resident Les Spindler.

Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright released his proposed $108 million spending plan for next year this week, which calls for no property tax hikes.

Back in 2014, the city came up with a three-year plan that called for a tax increase each year up through 2017, where taxes would have gone up by four percent next year.

But the mayor says that tax increase was avoided by several factors, including the sale of the city's parking garages that helped to refinance debt.

His administration had contract talks with the police and fire unions.

And the city settled a judgment that ordered them to pay back pay to those unions, a payment the mayor says had been racking up interest each day that the city didn’t pay by $100,000 a month.

City council unanimously passed the budget's first reading.

“Is this cause for celebration?” asked council member Wayne Evans. “Maybe for about five minutes and then we have to get back to work.”

And everyone is sold on this budget.

“But next year somebody's going to come up and say, we need a tax increase, and I'm going to ask where is the $120 million you gave when you gave away the parking,” asked one resident.

“We're banking on the proceeds from the sale of the sewer authority without first knowing how much storm water management will cost us,” said council member Bill Gaughan.

The proposed budget must be read and passed by council two more times before being adopted.

A final budget needs to be in place by next month.

 

3 comments

  • Hapy I Don't Live There

    If I were the residents of Scranton, I wouldn’t be jumping for joy – There is no accountability in that city’s government. They are still overspending. Years ago they kept police cars a long time, but now they have to ” keep up with the Jones’ ” Because all the other departments buy new equipment, the city has to buy new cars for the police. Yet, on the opposite side of the page, their firefighting equipment is long outdated. And let’s talk about the police department — in departments in other cities not located in NEPA, especially ones in other states, a rookie walks a beat, learns the territory, learns the neighborhoods they are assigned to. But not in Good ‘Ol Scranton, where you become a cop and get the keys to a car. When was the last time you saw a cop walking a neighborhood ? 20yrs ?30yrs? 40yrs? 50 yrs? Ask some of these cops where a street is or a certain small business, many of them do not know, especially where some of the less known streets are. They will still continue their habits of hiring relatives for jobs and relatives kids for summer jobs. Walk around City Hall sometime and look around – many of the offices have no on in them working… Where are these people that are being paid for positions that they aren’t even at work for ? Or how about the fact that some positions in city government have assistants for the assistants. There is no accountability. Have a problem with DPW or a DPW crew? Try getting something done about it — you can leave voicemails until you are blue in the face, because no one in charge is ever in the office. This city waste so much money and is so corrupt it isn’t funny. And the ultimate best part, it was the Democrat administration that put the city into the downward spiral of continuing debt many many many years ago, and the foolish people of the city keep right on putting Democrat leaders back in charge, thinking that the administration of Democrats are for the poor and for the city’s residents, when they are not. City government has gotten too big for itself and it should have done the noble thing 20 years ago and filed for bankruptcy and started over, then just maybe the city taxes would have had the numerous rate increases over the years.

      • Hapy I Don't Live There

        Good for them, let them live their so-called happy lives under the umbrella of local income taxes that are higher than the state income tax and property taxes that are doubled (or more) than surrounding communities. Apparently, you are one of the people who think that everything in the city is great and all their overspending has been justified, either that or you are on of those DPW workers that you can find parked in vehicles in alleys or dead ends while on the clock, or maybe you are one of those people who have their city job because your family members work for the city. You can have your silly town with all the dilapidated buildings and the houses that are falling apart that the city still allow owners to rent them out to people. or maybe you are one of those Scranton police officers who hang out at Turkey Hill and can tell you directions to Dunkin Donuts but can’t tell you the name of the alley two blocks over.

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