Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski delivered his proposed 2017 city budget to City Council Wednesday. The $104.7 million spending plan holds the property tax rate steady for a 12th consecutive year!
In his message to City Council, Pawlowski said, “The proposed 2017 Budget and Program of Services will see a continuation of the austere spending and employment practices that this administration has pursued in the past.”
While the expected growth in real estate values via the rapid expansion of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone is beginning to occur, and the accompanying growth in new businesses in Allentown is keeping other tax and fee collections robust; the continued reduction of state funding, the single worst snowstorm on record and a faster rate of increase in employee health insurance and other benefit costs is depleting the city’s General Fund reserves. Supplemental revenues are needed to balance the 2017 Proposed Budget and maintain proper fund balances into the future.
To address this issue, the earned income tax collected by the city will be increased from 1.15 percent to 1.50 percent, which will provide $6.2 million in additional revenue annually. The increase will cost a $50,000 wage earner $175 annually or approximately $3 per week or 47 cents per day. This will help maintain fiscal stability in the coming years, thus balancing out the city’s cash positions without affecting the General Fund cash reserves.
The Business Privilege Tax, the $52 Local Services Tax, the Refuse Collection Fee and all other taxes and fees are assessed at their 2016 rate, including the Act 205 Earned Income Tax rate for non-residents at 0.28%. This administration is hopeful that we will be able to phase out this tax as the many positive initiatives that have occurred within Allentown begin to provide alternative and additional revenue sources to fund the services our residents, taxpayers and business owners so well deserve.
The proposed budget also repeals the city’s longstanding exemption for non-Medicaid residents from paying the cost of non-medically necessary ambulance trips. This repeal will both raise revenue and reduce the number of non-emergency cases to which paramedics respond.
The city will also begin its repayment from the General Fund of the 2016 Solid Waste Fund loan in accordance with adopted ordinances.
Pawlowski thanked the directors of the city departments, bureau managers and supervisors for their diligence throughout the budget preparation process. “They prepare the numbers and continually work and re-work them to help compile a budget that provides city taxpayers with outstanding services at reasonable costs.”
Read the 2017 Proposed Budget here http://www.allentownpa.gov/Government/City-Budget.