Lebanon City Council passed a resolution on Dec. 13 keeping property tax rates for 2022 where they’ve been since 2016.

By a unanimous 5-0 vote, council decreed that the rate will remain at 4.581 mills, or $4.58 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Council had approved the city’s 2022 budget at its November meeting.

Mayor Sherry Capello said that “the real estate property tax is our second largest revenue source and, for a home with the average assessed value of $103,000, that person will pay $473 (in annual city property tax).”

Read More: Lebanon City Council approves 2022 budget with no tax increase

Union contract approved

Council also approved a three-year contract with AFSCME Southern Pennsylvania Public Employees Council 89, the union representing the city’s public works and public safety employees, crossing guards, and inspectors.

The contract covers 2022 through 2024, and provides a 3% pay increase for each year.

Other contract provisions include increases in employees’ health insurance deductibles, premium payment shares, and prescription co-pays.

Capello noted that the health insurance opt-out benefit payable to employees will increase “as an incentive for our employees to not take the city’s health care coverage.”

Contract negotiations are underway between the city and two other unions.

Plans in the works for American Rescue Plan funds

Last May, the city received the first half of $16.6 million of American Rescue Plan funds, and expects to receive the second half in May 2022.

In addition to providing benefits directly to individuals, the federal program gives money to local governments to deal with COVID-19 pandemic impacts and the resulting economic fallout.

Capello told council that the money would be used to replenish the general fund and make up for revenue lost due to the COVID pandemic. She would like the bulk of the money to go toward infrastructure improvements, especially stormwater runoff projects that have been wish list items for years.

The mayor mentioned a number of city intersections where water “ponds” after heavy rainfalls or otherwise doesn’t drain properly.

Major infrastructure projects aren’t cheap. Capello noted that the estimated cost of stormwater upgrades at 6th and Cumberland streets alone will be upwards of $300,000.

“We think of $16.6 million as a lot of money,” she said, “but when you look at some of the stormwater projects that we want to do, they are very costly.”

Capello also wants to earmark $1 million of A.R.P. money for local nonprofit organizations. Mental health, healthy childhood environments, housing, and workforce development are some of the eligible categories.

She announced that the city will shortly be setting up a web page to take applications online. The deadline will be Jan. 31, 2022.

Other business before council on Dec. 13

  • As of Nov. 30, with the fiscal year 92% complete, Capello reported that receipts were at 113% of 2021 budget projections, and expenditures at 81%
  • Capello told council that she had appointed Robin Getz and Helen Westphal as the city’s delegate and alternate delegate to the Lebanon County Tax Collection Committee. They will serve one-year terms starting on Jan. 1.
  • Outgoing councilman Daniel Bost was honored with a plaque for his service on council since October 2020. He had been appointed to fill the unexpired term of councilwoman Amy Keller.
  • Outgoing councilman Wayne Carey was honored with a plaque for his service on council since 2014. Carey chaired council between 2018 and 2020.

Next council meetings

Council’s annual reorganizational meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 13, at noon.

City Council’s next pre-council planning meeting will be on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, Jan. 24, at 6:30 p.m.

All meetings are open to the public and will be held in council chambers, Room 210, Municipal Building, 400 S. 8th St., Lebanon.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...