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Proposed budget would increase taxes in Northampton

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 05 2013 10:01:35 PM CST
NORTHAMPTON, Pa. -

The Northampton Borough Council is one step away from formally adopting a 2014 budget that will include a modest tax increase for residents.

The budget will raise taxes four-tenth of one mill from 8.10 mills to 8.50 mills and will cost the average borough household about $20 additional per year. Borough manager, Gene Zarayko made the comments during Thursday night's public workshop meeting.

Vice President Robert McHale noted that while there was good news about the budget, more revenue and less expenses than anticipated last year, an ominous trend is beginning to emerge as revenue is simply not keeping pace with expenditure. Chief among the trend is the soaring health care costs.

"I'll say the 'slush fund' at some point will run dry," he said during a comment session.

Zarayko concurred with McHale's statement, tagging the number of years before that statement could become a reality as "two, three years."

He added that the escalating health care costs are "pretty scary."

McHale and Zarayko also discussed at length about developing a prudent strategy with the borough's financial advisers to garner better returns on investments as the borough has lost money on funds in the depressed bond market.

"These all have to be safe and sound investments," Zarayko said, noting that the issue would be discussed and McHale was appeased.

"I looked over the budget and it looks very good," said Council President John Yurish. He added that the borough is "doing everything they can to give everybody (residents) everything they need" within the confines of the budget.

The budget is scheduled to be voted upon at the next borough council meeting on December 19th.