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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bethlehem Tax Bill to Go Up 7% Next Year

The Fahy bridge, as seen from Payrow Plaza
Skyrocketing pension costs, which have risen from $1.5 million in 2004 to $11.1 million next year, has forced Bethlehem City Council to impose a 7% tax hike next year. In a 6-1 vote at their December 20 meeting, with only David DiGiacinto opposed, it is the conclusion of a six-week budget process.

Mayor John Callahan proposed raising revenue by imposing an event tax, seeking voluntary contributions from nonprofits like Lehigh University and switching to a single trash hauler. But Bethlehem's 19 independent trash haulers, along with many of their customers, persuaded Council to postpone that decision.

There was little debate before a litany of votes in the numerous budgets adopted, from general fund to community development. Council members J. Willie Reynolds and Bob Donchez, who might be running against each other in the Mayoral race next year, agreed it was the "most difficult budget" each had ever faced. Donchez supported it because there were no layoffs in public safety. Reynolds warned, "It's only going to get more difficult."

Then followed what seemed like perfunctory votes, in which the word "aye" was repeated 147 times. That prompted city watchdog Mary Pongracz to joke, "I feel like we're on the H.M.S. Pinafore. I never heard so many 'ayes' in my life."

The tax hike approved by Council was whittled down from the 8.5% initially proposed by Mayor Callahan.

Council also unanimously authorized the administration to borrow up to $1.5 million from the escrow account to meet payroll in January.


Uncle Remus said...

2014 is going to be worse.

then booby donchez will actually have to make decisions. after all he has been part of the problem for 16 years.

Wee Willy will become mayor because he has a hot girl friend

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was just kidding him about that.

Anonymous said...

Callahan really screwed the pooch in Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

He covers for family who smash police cruisers, he borrows money to make city payroll, he never delivers on promised tax relief from the casino dough, and he sticks one final boot in the taxpayers' ass with a sinfully irresponsible tax increase.

All signs point to complete mismanagement and idiocy - bordering on mental retardation. I do not have proof, just lots and lots of evidence via his public life.

Callahan couldn't properly run a lemonade stand. He should go full time with his tone-deaf band and stop costing taxpayers money. He's done enough damage to last generations.

Anonymous said...

Callahan is your typical TAX and SPEND democrat. Keep him out of the county executive position; otherwise, you'll really see your taxes go up.

Anonymous said...

The only good thing is that county government generally has very few areas of responsibilty. It's spending is driven by passing on state/federal grants and the judiciary. Other than nursing homes there is little descretionary spending.The trouble happens when county execs try to expand the role of county government.

Anonymous said...

The City gets what it deserves.

It's cause and effect.

Council could have saved money with the trash issue, cutting their medical benefits, and pressed harder on the non-profits...

...but didn't.

At least Callahan threw ideas out there. It was Council that said no.

So a tax hike ye shall continue to receive. When your city has to continually borrow money to just make payroll you are in all sorts of trouble.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Callahan is your typical TAX and SPEND democrat. Keep him out of the county executive position; otherwise, you'll really see your taxes go up."

And put 70% tax hike Reibman in there? The guy who borrowed $111 million? The one who stuck us with a $25 million swaption? Gave us bribery in his closest advisers? Wife swapping in his cabinet?

That makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Bernie; talk about the lesser of two demonstrated evils. It's likely not an either/or. There will be other options. With D's in a civil war, outnumbered and pragmatic R's will influence the result. That's how Stoffa was put in with an R-majority council. They almost got Gracedale privatized. Rs are dumb like foxes.

Anonymous said...

The stupid idea to "dump Gracedale" by Angle and Stoffa cost the Republicas bigtime. It will cost them next year.

Anonymous said...

Let us all thank the banksters and their wholly-owned Federal Reserve for keeping the insurance companies and the pension investors, along with those of us who try to live on Social Security and savings, enjoying negative income through their idiot manipulations of the interest rates. Only workers, savers, pensioners and the elderly are being harmed, so ...it's OK.
(Max Keiser rules!)

Anonymous said...

" ....another tax and spend democrat."
Shut the fuck up you right wing fool, or at least find a more creative insult or we might have to cut off your Fox News.

Anonymous said...

Callahan and his talking puppet Joe Kelly want to come to a county near you. They have more vendors that want to be fed.

Anonymous said...

The increase could have been worse. The city sold some real estate to the Parking Authority to raise revenue. We see these fire sales going on at all levels of government. Rendell wanted to sell the turnpike, Corbett wants to sell the lottery (The lottery is quite profitable; why fix something that's not broken?). They are selling off the future. What happens when they run out of things to sell?