Wilkes-Barre Residents Not Happy with Proposed Tax Hike

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WILKES-BARRE -- The proposed 2013 Wilkes-Barre budget isn't sitting well with some people in the Diamond City.

Yesterday, Mayor Tom Leighton revealed his plan for a 31% hike in property taxes.

That works out to about $183 a year more for the average property owner in Wilkes-Barre.

Chris Macking has lived in Wilkes-Barre his entire life.  He owns his home in the Miners Mills section of the city, but he questions the 31% property tax hike that the mayor is proposing for next year.

"I think he's looking in the wrong places.  I don't think taxpayers should always be flipping the burden," said Macking.

"I think Camden and Detroit are moving in here.  Just the what you`re seeing on the streets. The people moving in, moving out all the time, the long-time residents are moving out."

Mayor Tom Leighton says the property tax hike is necessary to balance the budget.

Charlie Barthold rents an apartment on George Avenue and believes his landlord will pass along the increase to him and other tenants.

"Even if it`s 10 or 20 bucks a month is that going to hurt people you think? Yeah when you`re on a fixed income.  Are you on a fixed income? Yea. How`s that going to affect you? Because I`m making it as it is now."

Some landlords who own property in Wilkes-Barre, say if taxes are raised, people could just leave.

Jim Straub owns 14 rental properties throughout Wilkes-Barre.  He says while the mayor has the right idea by looking at other ways to cut costs, simply hiking property taxes isn't the answer.

"I think anytime you`re raising the cost of living in the city of Wilkes-Barre I`ve explained to some of the officials in the city that it`s not Wilkes-Barre, Hawaii, it`s not an island where people can`t just walk across the bridge or drive a mile or two and get into a much lower tax area," said Straub.

City council has until the end of the year to get the 2013 budget passed.