City’s no-tax-hike plan refreshing; discipline required

Necessary services for Williamsport residents.

Exorbitant pension obligations.

Expensive levee certification requirements.

Bargaining unit contracts.

These and other requirements make balancing a city budget without a tax increase extremely difficult.

But that’s what has been proposed by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and so far that’s what appears to be the final product of the 2018 city budget.

The proposal is a bit deceptive. The city projects an ending balance of $2.3 million at the end of this year but just a $120,561 reserve at the end of 2018.

That’s a no-margin-for-error plan based on a $26.6 million budget for 2018.

And should the city end next year with such a low reserve, something fundamental would have to change to balance the 2019 budget without a tax increase.

Members of City Council expressed understandable concern over the draining of surplus funding at a city budget session Monday night.

And there is some logic to a small tax increase now that prevents a much larger one a year or two from now.

Ultimately, City Council has to be comfortable with this budget and the administration has to have the discipline to get through the year on such a thin budget ledger. If those two things happen, it would be nice for local taxpayers to get a much-deserved break from the numbing stream of tax increases they have been enduring in recent years.

Such a small amount of flexibility makes monitoring of the 2018 expenses as they unfold even more important than usual and planning for the 2019 budget a full-year’s task next year. Council’s finance committee and the administration have an extremely vigilant year ahead of them.

But as long as the budget is a responsible one, we appreciate the spirit behind this no-tax-increase bottom line.