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Northampton County Council Fails to Pass Budget

If majority can't come to agreement, Stoffa's budget and 10 percent tax hike takes effect.

After more than two hours of discussion Thursday night, Northampton County Council tried, but failed, to adopt a budget for 2012.

Council had spent much of the night hearing from residents on proposed budget amendments, debating spending cuts and arguing over salary freezes and increases. 

But when it came time to vote, only four council members said yes to County .

"Yes, we have no budget," Council President John Cusick said minutes after the vote.

Councilman Ron Angle -- who at the beginning of the year -- told Cusick he should have worked harder with the rest of council to get the budget passed.

"It was your job to produce this budget. You have failed," said Angle, one of the five "no" votes.

Cusick said the council members who voted against the budget provided little help.

"There were people who voted no who produced no amendments," he told Angle.

Council will try to come to an agreement on the budget when it meets next week.

Under county law, if council doesn't agree on the executive's budget, it goes into effect by default, Cusick said. 

"We'll see what happens," he said after the meeting, arguing that the budget -- as amended -- would include a tax increase of roughly four or five percent. The increase in Stoffa's original budget would be 9.3 percent.

Council on Thursday voted for a series of budget amendments that cut roughly $3 million in spending, including $1.6 million from and another million from .

Supporters of those programs accounted for most of the people who addressed council at the start of the meeting.

Linda Heindel, of Williams Township, painted a picture of an all suburbanized Northampton County, and pleaded with council to continue the funding.

"Northampton County has a lot of beauty, and you have helped preserve a lot of it," she said.

Cusick told residents he hopes the 2013 budget can restore open space funding.

"It'll be too late," one of them responded.

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