Jeannette ups earned income tax
Jeannette Council raised the earned-income tax Wednesday and approved a preliminary 2015 budget that holds the line on property taxes.
In a unanimous vote, the board hiked the tax for the second consecutive year from 1.5 to 2 percent to catch up on employee pension obligations.
“Without the increase, the city faces a critical phase in any future recovery,” said Mayor Richard Jacobelli. “This city is poised to emerge from a distressed municipality to one that can fully pay its obligations.”
The 0.5 percent increase is projected to bring in about $600,000 for 2015 — revenue that would be directed to the city’s annual pension payments, some of which are overdue.
Once the city is able to get caught up with the state-mandated obligations, “this tax is required to be eliminated,” said Solicitor Scott Avolio. City manager Bruce Jamison said he hopes that will happen within the next two years.
“This is a monumental amount of funding that we need to get caught up,” Jamison said. “The time is now to step in while we still can and put this pension on its feet.”
The city is required to make about $1 million in annual pension payments for police, fire and municipal employees. Payments for 2013 are overdue, and if the city can’t fully fund its 2014 obligation, that outstanding figure will be rolled over to 2015. Jamison has said he hopes to have the remainder of the 2013 obligation paid by the end of 2014.
Jacobelli and Councilmen Mark Levander and Gabriel Homan voted in favor of the increase. Councilman Mark Clark was absent.
Homan previously voted against the increase, though acknowledging that it would be a quick way to remedy the financial situation. He explained during the meeting that council and city officials need to begin examining the future and managing for a population decline in addition to seeking additional revenue.
Council also accepted the resignation of former councilman Bill Bedont, who is moving.
Letters of interest are being accepted by the city until Dec. 1 for residents wishing to fill his unexpired term that runs through the end of 2015, Avolio said. Officials plan to conduct interviews during a public session in December. Council has 30 days to fill the vacated seat.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].