Scranton City Council Introduces Amendments to Proposed Budget

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SCRANTON -- Scranton City Council introduced amendments for the proposed budget for 2013 at the start of its meeting Thursday night.

“Essentially I'd like to eliminate all the raises,” said Councilman Frank Joyce, as he read off the amendments.

The amendments would do away with raises for six city employees, including the Scranton fire chief, city solicitor, city council solicitor, business administrator, finance director and human resources director.

Council plans to vote on those amendments at its next meeting on December 13.

“I commend you, Councilman Joyce, for making these amendments to take those raises out. I don't think now is the time,” said Les Spindler.

The proposed $109 million spending plan calls for a 12 percent property tax increase and a one percent commuter tax on non-residents who work in the city.

City leaders estimate the commuter tax, which still needs to be approved by the courts, would generate $2.5 million in 2013.

A hearing on the commuter tax is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11 at the Lackawanna County Courthouse.

“The city will never satisfy the debt it's saddled with. We’re borrowing so much money to make it through this year that it's obscene,” said Lee Morgan. “We've taxed everything I think we can tax.”

Other residents felt this was good a budget.

It calls for no layoffs of city employees, such as police or fire, and the tax increase isn't as high as other cities.

“Such as Wilkes-Barre, which I believe is raising their taxes over 30 percent and they just laid off 11 fire men,” said Doug Miller. “Hazleton is looking at an over 80 percent tax increase. So you see that it's happening everywhere.”

City council is planning to take a final vote to pass the budget at its meeting on Thursday.