announced his two part plan for economic stability in the finances for the city according to the Times Leader website.
Prior to announcing the plan Barletta talked about the budget and tax issues that brought him to his decision. For the year 2010 there will be a tax increase on the residents of Hazleton amount to about $249.00 per year for the average property owner. That tax increase will not prevent layoffs in the highway department or City Hall. Barletta stated emphatically that the tax increase and the layoffs were an unacceptable pill to swallow.
His plan includes the sale of the Water Department of the Hazleton City Authority. He noted that around the country many municipalities were exiting the water business. The net proceeds could approach $30 million dollars. Barletta stated he would like to see part of the proceeds invested and part used on the second phase of his plan. His concern is that future Mayors or councils might raid the proceeds and squander them.
Barletta wants to construct a green, clean solar power plant on the land owned by the City of Hazleton at the Hazleton Municipal airport. He would take the power generated, back it into the power grid, and use it to supply power to the City, as well as other municipalities like Hazle Township or the Hazleton Area School District.
The savings to the municipalities would be between $200,000 to $400,000 per year. In addition on the sale of the power the City of Hazleton would receive several hundred thousand dollars in profit.
Under the proposal two private firms interested in purchasing the Water Department, one of which approached the City to purchase the Water Department initially, would freeze water rates for at least two years. In addition all those employed by the Water Deparment would remain as employees of the new entity after the sale. It is a win-win situation for all.
Barletta maintains his plan will stave off future tax increases and provide financial stability for decades to come.