Will you be getting a break on taxes?
Luzerne County Council cuts increase from 2018 budget.
WILKES-BARRE — T here will be no county proper ty tax increase in Luzer ne County next year.
County council on Tuesday voted unanimously to eliminate the 2 percent property tax hike in the budget proposal county Manager David Pedri submitted to council on Oct. 10. The millage rate for 2018 will remain at this year’s rate of 5.9754 mills.
Council did not vote whether or not to approve the overall budget—that vote is scheduled for Dec. 12 — but Tuesday’s meeting featured lively discussions of proposed budget amendments, many of which ended in votes of 7-4 or 6-5.
In addition to voting down the proposed tax increase, council eliminated several proposed new county positions, including a proposed chief operating officer, or COO, who would have effectively served as a deputy to Pedri and been paid $96,000 per year.
The vote to eliminate the proposed COO was also unanimous. After the vote, Pedri joked that he took council’s refusal to hire a CO O as a vote of confidence in him.
Council also voted to eliminate a proposed communications coordinator position that Pedri requested for county administra - tion. Councilman Rick Williams cast the lone vote in favor of the post, saying the $51,000- per-year po sition would have benefited the county.
Council woman Eileen Sorokas said she voted for Pedri as manager because of his communication skills, and he does not need an assistant to speak for him.
Council also voted to eliminate one of three proposed new assistant district attorney positions, but rejected Council woman Kathy Dobash’s motion to eliminate all three positions.
position a no-go
Another position council voted out of the budget was a proposed human services program director, who would have been paid $70,000 per year.
Council rejected a budget amendment that would have eliminated four proposed new deputy sheriffs, and postponed till next month a vote on whether to slash two proposed new positions in the public defender’s office.
Council rejected Dobash’s motion to reduce the 2018 mill age rate by 2 percent and also voted down her motion to eliminate a proposed 3 percent merit-based pay increase for non-unionized county employees next year.
Council will hold a budget hearing Dec .5, one week prior to the sch edu led vote to approve the budget.