Tax hike possible for Hazleton property owners

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Hazleton property owners may be getting a holiday gift they really won’t be happy with. A possible 33.5 percent hike in property taxes. For now it’s only a proposal, but it has people talking.

Residents Eyewitness News spoke with are not happy about it at all, but the mayor insists the hike is needed to keep the city moving — in what he calls a positive direction.

“They are going to price people out of their homes, that’s the way I see it. I’m 74-years-old and they are going to price me right out of my house,” said Joe Scarcella of Hazleton.

Scarcella owns a home and business in Hazleton. He insists both will be in jeopardy if the tax increase is approved.

“Well, I know it’s only a proposal and I think it’s wishful thinking on the city’s part. But just like every resident in the city is tightening their belts because of COVID the city going to have to learn to do the same thing.”

“The tax increase works out to an additional 57 cents per day per $100,000 assessment,” said Mayor Jeff Cusat.

Mayor Cusat says the proposed tax increase is needed to maintain basic city services.

“We paved a lot of roads we had additional police we had additional fire additional code and all those things are making Hazleton a better place to live which is bringing up your property value, that little investment in property tax is helping you in the long run also.”

The tax increase, if approved by city council, would mean someone with a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000 would pay about $207 dollars more a year on property taxes.

 Councilman Tony Colombo tells us he hopes the tax increase can be reduced if not eliminated.

“There are certain things we are contractually obligated that we have to do. So we are climb to loom at where we can cut hopefully by December first final budget that will be fair to everybody.” 

Council has to approve the budget by the end of December. Mayor Cusat says he will work with council members, but insists there really is no fat to trim from the budget.

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