Will you be get­ting a break on taxes?

Luzerne County Coun­cil cuts in­crease from 2018 bud­get.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Mark STAFF WRITER

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.

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