Wayne property taxes going up

HONESDALE, PA — The 2018 Wayne County budget is calling for a property tax increase for the first time since 2013.

Next year, taxes on a property assessed at $100,000 will amount to $399, Wayne Business Manager John Haggarty said. The new millage rate will be 3.99, up from 3.71 mills. (Each mill represents $1 in taxes for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.)

The county commissioners voted approval for the budget that Haggarty presented on November 30. In his budget statement, Haggarty reported that assessed property values have increased only $358,591 since 2013, while county operations costs have risen by a combined total of $2 million over the same period.

Real estate taxes provide approximately two-thirds of county revenues, with the balance coming from state and federal funds, interest and user fees. The commissioners have made up some of the difference by retiring older bonds and reissuing them at new, lower interest rates, but the taxpayer eventually has to provide the rest.

Haggarty listed a variety of issues prompting increased costs. He said the state and federal governments continue to impose unfunded mandates on counties. He cited the series of state laws, called “the Sandusky legislation,” requiring greater personal oversight in government programs, which resulted from the notorious Penn State scandal and conviction of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

He listed specific related department increases including human services/aging, $396,533; adult and juvenile probation, $260,000 and human services/children and youth, $160,000.

Wayne’s portion of the national opioid epidemic has been costly. Human services/drugs and alcohol costs have risen by $155,000.

The county prison’s costs have increased by $600,000 since 2013 due to criminal justice costs and the termination of Pike County’s contract to house prisoners at Wayne’s facility.

Haggarty praised the commissioners’ efforts to spur new economic development over the five-year period, increasing investment in that area by $200,000 and leveraging funding for the Stourbridge Incubator Project, creating an economic growth-fund program, continued efforts to increase broadband access and providing a match for a community economic development, workforce development and agricultural study.

The budget will be available for public review at the commissioners’ office and online at the county website. The budget will be formally adopted at the commissioners’ December 21 meeting.

 

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