Easton residents could to pay a higher earned income tax next year, Mayor Sal Panto said Tuesday.
The 0.2 percent increase is how Panto's administration plans to fill an $800,000 gap in the city's 2014 budget, which finds Easton once again wrestling with rising health care and pension costs.
"The decision to recommend this increase was not made
lightly," Panto told City Council during his budget presentation Tuesday.
If council agrees to balance the $33 million budget using the tax increase, a family making $50,000 a year would pay $100 more in earned income taxes next year, the mayor said.
The city's earned income tax rate is currently at 1.75 percent.
Panto is hoping residents will offset the increase by taking part in the city's recycling plan, which could save them $33 a year.
Budgets have gotten harder to balance each year, Panto said, due to the rise in health care and pension costs and a decrease in help from the state.
The city's lack of economic wiggle room has been "hampering…no, I’ll say eliminating our ability to do more
for our residents," he said.
Panto said the city is seeing more revenue from real estate taxes, as well as from parking as more people visit Easton's downtown.
At the same time, revenue is declining on other fronts. The city will no longer provide police services for the borough of West Easton starting next year, meaning the loss of a $260,000 contract. Easton is also losing money from the state liquid fuels and Community Development Block Grant programs.