Wilkes-Barre City Council adopts Mayor Brown’s 2022 budget

WILKES-BARRE – City Council on Tuesday approved Mayor George Brown’s balanced $ 54.4 million budget for 2022 and took the first steps to expand downtown parking permits and reduce costs for recycling and d sewer maintenance.

Council unanimously adopted the second and final reading of the budget ordinance and also moved the other fees and parking ordinances to second reading at the next meeting on December 21. The three ordinances were the only items on the agenda for the combined working session. and public meeting.

The reduced fees are included in the budget, but in order for them to be lowered by $ 25, as suggested by Council Brown, he must change the ordinance. Changes take effect 10 days after final reading and approval.

The cuts appealed somewhat to Sam Troy, who frequently asks the city to ease the burden it places on residents with taxes and service charges.

“I’m as happy as anyone that recycling and sewer charges are brought down to their current level of $ 50. That’s right, isn’t it? Said Troy.

Earlier this year, Brown and the Council traded the fees. He wanted to double them to $ 100, but the Council reduced them to $ 50 in its amended budget. In February, Brown vetoed the changes, saying the fee cut would leave a $ 1.45 million hole in the revenue side of the budget and force his administration to cut services to residents. He subsequently increased the fee to $ 75 and said he would do his best to make up for the drop in income through good tax management.

Budget 2022 appeared to show that the city weathered the financial storm, particularly with the $ 37.1 million in US bailout funds it received from the federal government, and Troy suggested cutting back further. fees to $ 25 and slightly lower property and earned taxes.

“These hard working folks in the town of Wilkes-Barre might deserve some break, God forbid, and the average taxpayer,” Troy said.

The budget does not contain a property tax increase, but it taps into $ 1.8 million in ARP funds to balance it.

The city received the ARP money earlier this year after the $ 1.9 trillion financial assistance package to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic was enacted by the president Joe Biden. However, the federal government has set strict conditions on how the ARP money can be used.

Brown and members of his administration said the funds can be used to replace declining income, but not to cut taxes or pay into pension plans.

Responding to Troy’s call for help for the taxpayer, Brown said his administration created financial aid programs using ARP money to attract new businesses, help social service agencies to nonprofit, provide a stimulus payment of $ 300 to eligible residents, pay for renovations and closing cost down payments on home purchases.

The city has “sliced” $ 7.1 million in ARP funds with all of these programs for the benefit of residents, Brown said.

The current amendment to the Parking Ordinance will extend the licensed parking area from West Ross Street to South Main Street. It stops at Barnum Place, forcing tenants at Cumberland Apartments to park two blocks away in a church parking lot, said Kelly Michinski, the property’s property manager.

“I have about 30 people who will be very happy to have a parking lot closer,” Michinski said.

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

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