"Unbalanced" 2018 budget contains no tax increase

Commissioners unveiled spending plan Friday

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - There is some good news for property owners in Lackawanna County.

Commissioners unveiled their proposed 2018 budget Friday morning and while it does not include a tax increase the spending plan is far from balanced.

Commissioners say the budget is far from a finished document.

Right now, the spending plan doesn't call for any layoffs or tax hike but it still has a more than $2.3 million deficit that commissioners admit they're working to close.

There was a lot of activity inside the West Scranton Active Adult Center Friday.

When budget season comes around in the middle of October, the people really start paying attention to the news.

"Taxes around here are ridiculous," Chuck Weber of Scranton said.

"Every budget that comes along everybody sits and worries," Margaret McGraw of Scranton said.

After hearing Lackawanna County commissioners are pledging not to raise taxes in 2018, people on fixed incomes were relieved.

"I think there's a lot of senior citizens and they could use that!" Mary Dux of Scranton said.

Commissioners say they've been working on the budget for months but it still carries a hefty deficit, $2.3 million, which they are working to close.

Commissioner Laureen Cummings says "as is," she could not vote to approve the budget presented Friday morning because it's unbalanced.

She asked each department head to cut expenses by five percent.

"We have had many suggestions and many people have said they have absolutely nowhere else to cut and they showed us why but I appreciate the fact that they actually did the work involved," Commissioner Laureen Cummings said.

While the $123 million budget still has a big hole, Commissioner Pat O'Malley believes they can get it closed.

"People can't afford for their taxes to be increased," Commissioner O'Malley said.

Moving forward, commissioners are looking to save any money possible.

One idea involves possibly moving and consolidating central court activities outside of the Lackawanna County courthouse in a building on Wyoming Avenue right behind the county prison.

"We're looking to see what the monies are right now to see what the savings would be to see if it makes sense to take such a venture," Commissioner O'Malley said.

Commissioners are planning to hold four public meetings on the budget.

They will all take place on Thursday, November 2.

They begin at 10:30 AM in the Commissioners Meeting Room in downtown Scranton.

The second hearing is at 12:30 PM at the Moscow borough building.

The third hearing is at 3:00 PM at the Olyphant borough building.

The final hearing will be at 6:00 PM at the Scott Township borough building.

Commissioners expect to start the formal budget approval process on November 15.


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