Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri is scheduled to present his proposed 2019 budget to council on Tuesday.
It’s unclear if the administration will recommend a tax increase. The budget ordinance attached to the meeting agenda contains a blank space for the tax rate.
Pedri said Sunday that he is not seeking any new positions in the budget, but he is waiting until Tuesday’s meeting to discuss other specifics.
The county’s $138.4 million 2018 general fund operating budget did not contain a tax hike. A 2 percent increase had been proposed, but officials determined it was unnecessary largely due to debt refinancing savings.
The current tax rate is 5.9754 mills, which equates to $597.54 on a property assessed at $100,000. A mill is $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed value.
Approving a budget is one of the essential duties of the 11-member, part-time council because it sets spending limits for the administration for a year.
The manager doesn’t have to come to council for approval on purchases if he has enough budgeted funds to cover them unless the expenditures would cost the county $25,000 in a future year or $75,000 in two or more years, the county’s home rule charter says.
Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre. A work session following the meeting will include discussion about the debt and contingency reserve portions of the proposed 2019 budget.
The county’s debt payments will increase by $4.26 million next year, or 21 percent, for a new total of $25.04 million.
Pedri is proposing reducing the budgeted contingency reserve from $4.9 million to $1.05 million next year to help cover the debt repayment increase, the agenda paperwork says.
Several budget work sessions have been scheduled before the Dec. 11 budget adoption:
• Oct. 16, 5 p.m., courthouse — public defender and administrative services
• Oct. 23, 5:30 p.m., Hazle Township municipal building — public budget hearing, voting meeting and work session for the solicitor and budget/finance budgets
• Oct. 30, 5 p.m., courthouse — controller and correctional services
• Nov. 5, 5 p.m., courthouse — district attorney and judicial services and records
• Nov. 13, 6 p.m., courthouse — voting meeting and work session for the operational services division budget
• Nov. 19, 5 p.m., courthouse — public budget hearing and work session for the general government and human services budgets
• Nov. 27, 6 p.m., courthouse — voting meeting and work session for courts budget
• Dec. 4, 6 p.m., courthouse — voting meeting and work session to discuss budget amendments
An optional budget work session has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 10 at the courthouse, with the budget adoption set for 6 p.m. the following day.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.