LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A proposed tax hike for residents in Luzerne County, and it’s more than double the last hike in 2020.

The 2023 budget was presented to the county council Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Eyewitness News heard from the Luzerne County manager and department heads about why they proposed such a hefty hike. However, residents in the county aren’t so thrilled.

“These taxes, they’re killing people,” said Sonia Rolon of Wilkes-Barre.

Another possible tax hike.

“I don’t like it, nobody else should like it and all of a sudden they didn’t raise it in so many years but look at right now inflation whatever we’re in,” said Robert Gelsleichter of Wilkes-Barre.

Tuesday, Luzerne County Manager Randy Robertson’s proposed 2023 budget includes a 6.75% property tax increase. Under the budget proposal, the owner of a property assessed at the county average of $132,776 would pay $55 per year more in county property tax.

“The budget that was unveiled last night was a product of this team, not me, I’ve been here three and a half months,” explained Robertson.

The increase amounts to less than $5 per month

The biggest reason behind the hike is to get county departments staffed properly.
Robertson says for those who oppose the increase. You get what you pay for.

“No representation at court sometimes or whatever that may look like that’s ok that’s not my decision that’s a council decision,” said Robertson.

Many department heads in the county expressed to Eyewitness News Wednesday how thin they are stretched.

“I now have eight openings in my office, five full-time and three part-time, I cannot fill those positions,” said Steven Greenwald, chief public defender.

Greenwald says the problem lies with their starting salary. In the public defender and district attorneys’ offices, it begins at $51,483.

It’s a different situation at the Luzerne County correctional facility.

“We don’t have a problem getting them in the door, but we have a problem with retention. They are on our payroll for a couple of years get training experience then they move on for better financial opportunities,” described Jack Robshaw, deputy warden.

When learning of the possible tax hike, residents in Luzerne County say they are already strapped financially.

“There’s people that are retired that cannot afford increases every time the politicians want to raise the taxes,” said Rolon.

And want to know when the increases will stop.

“And when’s it going to stop because after that UGI, PPL, everything is going, going, and going, and we’re not getting no more money coming in,” described Gelsleichter.

Council must approve the final budget by December 1. Click the link to read the entire proposed 2023 Luzerne County Budget.