Wilkes-Barre Mayor George amends proposed budget changes after public rebuke


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WILKES-BARRE — A day after city council and residents panned Mayor Tony George’s proposed changes to the budget, he cut his tax hike and made further revisions in expenses and revenues.

George lowered his property tax hike to 20 mills from 25 mills and listed the other changes in a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon.

The lower millage would result in a $12-a-month increase or $144 annually for a household with a property having an assessed value of $7,360, George said. The lower millage would cut $400,000 from the approximate $1.9 million in revenues projected at the 25-mill rate.

The city council will vote on the amendments at its regularly scheduled public meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

At a special hearing on the budget Tuesday night, none of the five council members supported George’s tax hike and questioned his line items adjustments in the $51.5 million balanced budget in place from the previous office holder Mayor Tom Leighton. The existing budget does not contain a tax hike, maintaining the 121.63 millage rate. A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

George explained his change of plans in a prepared statement. “Raising taxes was not something I wanted or intended to do as one of my first acts of mayor. However, it is the right thing to maintain financial stability for the city today and in the long run. As mayor, I will continue to look for additional sources of revenue to offset increased budget costs,” he said.

In addition to the new millage rate the revisions are:

• Elimination of a $200,000 expense for a new street sweeper

• Addition of $100,000 in revenue from the city surveillance camera system

• Removal of the expense associated with Legion Security to monitor the camera system

• A $100,000 increase in the revenue projection for the collection of the delinquent business privilege tax

George said the amount in the collection of the delinquent tax was changed after speaking with Navient, the third-party collection agency, contracted for the work.

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By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott

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