When Hazleton's Mayor Lou Barletta announced his plan to lay the foundation for a long term solution to the City of Hazleton's financial crunch many of the taxpayers of the City actually did not see the presentation at City Hall. Due to the impact on low income working families and seniors of the City SOP has obtained the file for the presentation from the City's website.
Taxpayers in the City who sign the petition opposing the sale of the HCA Water Department are really signing a petition for higher taxes. As you are about to see the fixed cost expenses are outpacing revenue despite the opponent claims that the City was mismanaged.
The first slide(not in the presentation but presented here) shows the one time revenue sources by year from 2004 that have postponed the financial crunch from occuring sooner.
The next slide demonstrates how adjusted income failed to keep pace with adjusted expenses.
This next image shows how real estate tax revenue actually declined over the period from 2004-2008.
There was a slight increase in Earned Income Tax Revenue but considering the time frame one could argue that it was essentially flat.
Likewise the Mercantile and Business Privilege Taxes were essentially flat to only very slightly down.
Emergency Municipal Services Tax revenue took a dramatic drop due to Harrisurg and Todd Eachus's messing with the way the revenue is collected. Municipalities across the state suffered, not only Hazleton, because our legislators lack the acumen to understand their mistake.
Employee insurance costs are up over $417,000 for the period 2004-2008. Every municipal employer, as well as most private entities, in the state is facing the same exhorbitant rise in those costs.
Employee salaries really demonstrate one of the biggest reasons for Hazleton's financial crunch. Unfortunately one of the only solutions to this problem is to decrease the size of the police department which in SOP's opinion is not an option given the current crime element trying to take a foothold on Hazleton's streets.
This graph showing overtime costs illustrates another uncontrollable problem for Hazleton that is tied to the last chart. Police investigations into crimes in Hazleton, just like the Derrick Kichline murder, are the biggest reasons for these overtime costs. Snowplowing in the winter time is another factor contributing to this area. If someone can figure out how to control crime and the weather, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, move over another billionaire will be joining the crowd.
Just these three budget areas demonstrate the devastating impact on the budget of the City of Hazleton and to its taxpayers.
That presentation in a nutshell sums up the reason the sale of the Water Department of the HCA is even being considered. The Mayor and City Council weighed different options before coming to this conclusion. SOP has of yet to see any other viable plan put forward. If Hazleton taxpayers sign the petitions to oppose the sale of the Water Department someone should explain the dire consequences beforehand. Expect a dramatic increase in property taxes due to the reassessment dropping the millage so drastically.