New Castle News

December 21, 2013

No tax hike as city adopts budget

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — New Castle City Council has adopted an $18.4 million budget for 2014 that requires no tax increase.

The budget includes $15,229,835 for the general fund, which represents an overall increase of $750 over the plan introduced last month by Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo.

In addition to the general fund, which covers daily operating expenses and capital improvements, the overall budget includes the sinking fund to cover debt, liquid fuels and the city’s annual appropriation for the New Castle Public Library.

At its regular meeting Thursday, council eliminated $8,000 that the mayor had proposed to hire a part-time parking meter enforcement officer.

Councilman William Panella said he does not believe the city should spend $8,000 for someone to basically write tickets. He noted council last year made the department’s one part-time officer full time.

The $8,000 and some other expenditure cuts — totaling $9,362 — were placed in council’s contingency account. That account totals $29,362.

Panella’s amendment to eliminate the community development coordinator’s position failed by a 4-1 vote.

Spending in the general fund budget is about $868,000 higher than this year. That includes increases for capital improvement and the pension fund as well as wage hikes.

The city was able to avoid a property tax increase because of the additional revenue it is receiving from wage tax collections. The increased revenue is due in part to the implementation of a state law two years ago that centralized wage tax collections.

The city’s Act 47 coordinator had said if the city could find recurring, sustainable revenue, then a one-mill property tax hike could be avoided for both 2014 and 2015. The coordinator determined the income from the wage tax meets the criteria of recurring, sustainable revenue.

General fund revenue exceeds spending by $61,646.49.