Harrisburg warns residents of pending tax increase - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

Harrisburg warns residents of pending tax increase

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On his way to work, Darrell Merideth was not eager to hear that a portion of his hard-earned cash was about to go away.

A public notice posted in The Patriot-News and obtained by abc27 News warned residents their earned income taxes may double.

"It's crazy, especially during these times" Merideth said. "Money is really tight. Taking even more money is crazy."

In black and white, the notice explains "it is the intention of the City of Harrisburg to impose a temporary, 12-month rate increase of the Earned Income and Net Profits Tax."

Someone earning $40,000 annually would have to pay $800 if taxed two percent; an extra $400 on top of the current EIT rate.

During her State of the City address Friday, Mayor Linda Thompson said raising the EIT is the best way to generate needed revenue.

"I know we don't want to hear about increased income taxes, but ladies and gentlemen, these are tough times and we have to make tough decisions," she said.

State officials calculated the tax hike should generate about $5.1 million. According to a ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter, that added cash must be used toward public services.

Police Chief Pierre Ritter said any boost in the department's budget is welcomed.

"It would help us to maybe put some additional officers out during some of the evening hours or nighttime hours that we need in order to keep the city safe," Ritter said.

Ritter said he's lived in Harrisburg since the mid-80's. As a taxpayer, he understands he may have to pay more to get more.

"If it does a lot of good for us and for the city, getting the city out of debt, helping the police department, I'm all for it," Ritter said.

The City of Scranton, also under a state takeover, last week approved a commuter tax instead of increasing property taxes. Anyone who works within the city limits will pay an extra one-percent on their earned income.

Harrisburg has a population of fewer than 50,000. Daily commuters swell the number of people in the city to around 83,000 according to City Council records.

Unlike Scranton, Harrisburg is legislatively barred from imposing a commuter tax. State Representative Glen Grell, R-Cumberland, wrote the language in the state-approved recovery plan.

Merideth believes state lawmakers are protecting their own interests of not having to share the pain in Harrisburg's financial crisis.

"Honestly, they do what they want over there," Merideth said. "I just try to work hard, live, and do what I have to do."

City Council will hold a public hearing on the tax increase during its legislative session October 23.

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