Big Tax Hike For Hazleton?

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HAZLETON -- Imagine getting your tax bill to find it's going up by 83%! That's what taxpayers in Hazleton may be facing.

It takes millions of dollars to operate the city of Hazleton. Most of the costs can be traced to personnel, including from the police department, to those who fight fires, to those who work on city streets.

Mayor Joe Yannuzzi said times are financially tough.

"We are at mimimum staff, we are not overstaffed in any department,so what do you do?" asked Mayor Yannuzzi.

The city has a $1.7 million shortfall in cash and officials are asking taxpayers to kick in more.

A property worth $92,000 now pays $286 a year in taxes. Under the tax plan that would rise to $523.00 in 2013, an increase of 83%.

The Mayor said the only way to hold the line on taxes is to eliminate the fire department or cut the number of police officers in half. Mayor Yannuzzi said that is unacceptable.

"This is it without cutting deep into city services which probably hurt the city more," said Mayor Yannuzzi.

Victor Patrocino runs a general contracting business, pays property taxes and said the proposed increase would hurt him.

"Everything is going up, not only the taxes, but the utilties are going up," said Patrocino.

The proposed tax increase would apparently hurt those who rent too. Dan DePretis said his landlord will raise his rent to pay the tax bill.

"I think it's horrible! Like I said most of the people in town are on fixed incomes, they're elderly retired people. Where are they going to get the money from to pay for that?" said DePretis.

City council has two more meetings to talk about the budget. Some said it's clear they have some difficult decisions ahead.