Lehigh County Homeowners to Get Tax Cut and Credit in 2013
Lehigh County Executive Bill Hansell's budget compromise stands when a veto override falls short.
The average homeowner in Lehigh County will pay $44 less in taxes in 2013 than they do this year, under a county budget that includes both a tax cut next year and a tax credit.
Under the budget, county spending will be cut by $3.5 million next year, taxes reduced by $3 million and tax credits given that amount to $3.5 million, said Tom Muller, the county's director of administration.
The spending and tax cuts are the result of a lengthy budget process that resulted in Lehigh County Executive Bill Hansell offering a compromise budget that withstood a possible veto override Wednesday night by Lehigh County Commissioners.
Muller said the average tax bill, for a home valued at $178,000, will be reduced to $670 from $714. Those with homes valued higher will see more savings, and those with homes valued lower will see less, he said.
Hansell's original budget proposal provided $6.5 million in tax credits to homeowners but kept the tax rate the same.
Then, a Republican faction on the Board of Commissioners passed budget amendments that called for $5 million in spending cuts, $1.5 million in tax credits and a 4.8 percent cut in the tax rate.
Hansell, a Democrat, argued the Republican-added budget amendments could not be achieved or sustained, and using his line-item veto power earlier this month, he offered the budget compromise, according to a report in The Morning Call.
Muller said all three plans would have resulted in an average $44 savings for taxpayers.
A supermajority of the board -- six of nine commissioners -- would have been needed to override Hansell's veto of the budget amendments.
At Wednesday's commissioners' meeting, the bloc of five Republicans who wanted deeper cuts and a smaller tax credit — Scott Ott, Vic Mazziotti, Lisa Scheller, Michael Schware and Tom Creighton — voted for a veto override, according to The Morning Call and the Express-Times. Republicans Brad Osborne and Percy Dougherty, and Democrats Dan McCarthy and David Jones supported the compromise budget.