Lebanon City Council approved a $15.6 million budget on Monday that will freeze property taxes for the eighth year in a row.

Total revenue for 2023 is projected to be $12,909,215, an increase of $276,837, or 2.19 percent, over the 2022 budget.

Total 2023 expenditures are projected at 15,649,585, an increase of $359,285 or 2.35 percent over 2022.

The $2,740,370 shortfall between projected expenses and revenue will be made up by carrying forward an anticipated 2022 revenue surplus in the same amount.

The city’s three largest revenue generators are the 1.4% earned income tax, the real estate property tax, which is based on the total assessed value of all properties in the city, and the 1% real estate transfer tax, charged every time a property is sold.

The hot housing market in 2021 and 2022 led to record high transfer tax receipts, which the city expects to drop slightly in 2023 due to inflation and higher mortgage rates.

Mayor Sherry Capello noted that the city’s earned income and property tax rates are the lowest among Pennsylvania’s third-class cities.

2023 expenses are projected to break down as follows:

  • Police Department, $5,447,925 (34.8% of total budget)
  • Administration (includes medical insurance and pensions), $3,899,732 (24.9%)
  • Public Safety (includes fire department), $3,589,986 (22.9%)
  • Public Works (includes streets and infrastructure), $2,554,836 (16.3%)

Other business before City Council

  • With the 2022 fiscal year 83% complete through Oct. 31, revenue was at 104% of budget projections and expenses at 72%, according to Capello
  • Capello said the city’s auditors found no deficiencies or adverse findings in their audit for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Council amended an earlier resolution committing the city to pay 50% of the cost of two new fire engines for the Rescue and Union fire companies. The low bid was 14% higher than predicted. The city’s contribution will increase from $340,000 to $388,888, and come out of American Rescue Plan and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
  • Council amended the annual CDBG plan to move $360,000 of unused money allocated to 2020 and 2021 programs to 2022 street repaving on Lehman Street from Lincoln Avenue east to the 5th Avenue city line.
  • Council formalized a policy of equal opportunity in housing for all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, family status, disability, age, and ancestry. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the provision if the city wants to receive housing funds.
  • Council gave preliminary approval to a change to a city ordinance titled “Property Tax and Residence Tax” to allow waiving additional charges to first time homebuyers for delinquent property taxes who do not receive a bill within 12 months of purchase. A recent update of state law allows the change.

Next City Council meetings

City Council’s next pre-council planning meeting will be on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in the City Hall multi-purpose room, 735 Cumberland St., first floor, Lebanon.

Meetings are also streamed live on YouTube here.

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Chris Coyle

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,...

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