Bethlehem 2013 Budget Hearings Begin Tonight

City Council to begin discussion tonight on proposals to switch to a single garbage hauler and to raise the real estate tax by 8.5 percent.


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.

Kathy Chapman December 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
As a taxpayer& homeowner, I vote. This "conversation" is going to continue, until the Mayor gets his "way"! Mayor Callahan will not be in office when ANY city contract of any kind is negotiated after 2013! I believe the strategy is to, just, wear out the homeowners and private trash haulers, to exhaustion. The City Counsel publically states the meeting starts at 6pm(or7)..diligent residents and trash hauler personnel attend. The "wearing out" occurs by pushing this PRESSING ISSUE to the latest possible hr...waiting for the concerned of the "audiance" to "thin out". Council and Mayors' TOTAL lack of respect for ALL is obvious and uncalled for! If this is THE "PRESSING" issue of the meeting..what is Council waiting for, other than the above stated "waiting game". This is a stratigically planned game, by 8-4pm City workers (Council/Mayor).NONE of the issues or arguments have changed..in more than 20 YEARS. What do Council and Mayor NOT GET. CITY OF BETHLEHEM DOES NOT WANT A SINGLE HAULER. Then there is the Fuzzy math...how can you assume that it will be "cheaper" for the taxpayers, IMPOSSIBLE, by the way, I can prove it..while creating a such a PROFIT, ($400,000 revenue) for the City? I just know the single hauler is NOT doing this service for FREE!! Truly, if you don't care about we the people, who pay your salaries, recognize, in this economic environment, EACH of you DARE to DESTROY 31 VERY LOCAL Companies is to have NO moral compass! Will GREED trump principle, AGAIN?
Kathy Chapman December 06, 2012 at 07:23 PM
There is no need to raise taxes.....cut spending, cut salaries....until the ecomony improves for EVERYONE....this is a USA issue with NO surprises, that City Counsel and Mayor KNEW was on the horizon, so deal with it. In viewing the proposed budget, I continue to see a LACK of accountability for expenses....no answers..and NO ACCOUNTABILITY!


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