Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easton City Council Passes 2013 Budget with Parking Rate Hike Unanimously

By Christina Georgiou

Members of Easton's City Council passed the proposed 2013 budget unanimously Wednesday evening.

Related ordinances that support the budget, including changes to the city's parking meter rates, also passed unanimously, though two council members said they were "ambivalent" about that part of the city's financial blueprint for the coming year.

"I'm not that happy about raising the meters to $1 an hour. I was happier with 75 cents," said Councilwoman El Warner. "I'm not really happy, but I understand it, and I'm not sure what the alternative would be."

Councilman Jeff Warner had similar thoughts.

"Do I like everything in this budget? No," he said. "But I've come to the conclusion that it's a solid, balanced budget."

Parking meter rates will increase to $1 per hour and the hours of operation will be extended, from to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays, starting on January 1.

But the budget holds the line on property taxes for 2013. In addition to the parking meter increase, residents will pay a small increase in garbage rates, some user fees will go up and the city will collect a "commuter tax"--an Earned Income Tax (EIT) from those who work but do not live in the city as well as from residents.

"At least there's no tax increase, and with (parking) meters you make the choice to use it or not. With a tax increase, there's no choice," Warner noted.

Looking ahead to 2014, as required by the city's Home Rule Charter, Mayor Sal Panto said the city hopes to again avoid a tax increase, though a number of expenses are expected to rise by about two percent, estimated by the consumer price index and a number of increases called for by city contracts.

He said while normally at this time looking ahead to the following year, city finance administrators estimate a $1.5 to 2 million budget gap and then work to bridge it, this year the gap is much smaller.

"Next year's budget gap is projected at $527,000," Panto said, adding that he feels confident the shortfall will be bridged.

No comments:

Post a Comment