City Council tonight will have the first of four scheduled hearings to discuss the 2013 budget proposal of Mayor John Callahan. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.
With overall General Fund revenue on the agenda, all three of the most controversial aspects of the proposed spending plan are likely to be discussed to some degree during tonight’s hearing:
- The switch to a single-hauler system of garbage collection, which Callahan has said will bring $400,000 in new revenue. The city has long had a system in which homeowners were responsible for hiring their own trash collectors.
- An 8.5 percent increase in the real estate tax, 60 percent of which will be a new dedicated tax to the continued operation of the city’s 911 emergency dispatching center. Bethlehem is one of only two cities in Pennsylvania that has not turned its emergency dispatch over to a county. The other is Allentown.
- A 5 percent amusement tax on all ticketed events in the city, including concerts at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, the Musikfest Café at SteelStacks, Musikfest and sporting events at Lehigh University.
Other items and department budgets scheduled to be discussed during tonight’s hearing include:
- Civic Expenses
- Council, Mayor, Treasurer, Controller
- Law Bureau
- Department of Administration
- General Fund Expenditures
- General Expenses
- Debt Service
Council is scheduled to discuss its 911 Fund during a budget hearing on Nov. 27. Trash hauling will be discussed again on Dec. 4 when Department of Community and Economic Development is on the agenda.
The final council budget hearing is scheduled on Dec. 17. Final adoption has been scheduled to take place during a rescheduled regular City Council meeting on Dec. 20.
For a more detailed look at the mayor’s budget proposal, follow this link to the city’s Website to a page that includes the mayor’s budget address and a link to a PDF of his proposed budget.