Monday, October 21, 2013

Gloom and doom from Lawton

TL: Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton’s proposed 2014 budget calls for an 8 percent tax increase and contains a $2.77 million gap that will be closed with roughly 55 layoffs if employees don’t offer up concessions.

 There has been something of a collective freakout online and from local politicos over this proposal. My advice is that everybody take a chill pill as this his opening negotiating position and will certainly be modified before a final budget is adopted. How many times have we seen this before from local school districts. The first draft of the budget proposes a big hike in taxes and the final one limits it to only 2 or 3 percent. Then they all slap each other on the back for "working hard" to find efficiencies that limited the tax hike.

The biggest driver of the budget woes is the debt service. The Bond Brothers, Skrep and Vondy , borrowed almost every year to just cover operating expenses and it's going to take about 15 years to dig out of the hole they dug. In the meantime costs increase every year for everything from health care to office supplies. In the end some people will be let go and taxes will go up.

Some Luzerne County Council candidates sound ridiculous about never voting for a tax increase. It's like Grover Norquist got to them.

County council candidate pledges no tax raise

 Paul DeFabo is incoherent. He doesn't want  a tax increase or layoffs. Kathy Dobash and Eileen Sorokas have said no to a tax increase ever. I expected that from Kathy but not Eileen. The rest of them said all the usual things  about cutting expenses but did not rule out raising taxes.


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