City tax increase: It’s not much, but it’s too much

It doesn’t seem like much. And it’s not.

But this particular year, the quarter-mill increase in property taxes attached to the 2017 Williamsport city budget is too much.

The tax increase amounts to $25 a year on a property assessed at $100,000. The $218,000 generated by the tax increase is needed, in the view of City Council and the administration of Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, to balance the budget.

That budget is impacted by a 6-percent increase in the city’s health care costs. In the police and fire departments alone, health care costs are increasing by $250,000.

The tax increase attached to a budget with relatively few major changes in other costs points to how little discretion City Council has with the city budget.

That won’t change until fresh revenues are generated from significant new commercial developments or business and industry expansion. Until then, future city budgets will look a lot like this year’s.

Final passage of the budget is set for tonight. We trust, by the time that vote is taken, council members will have thoroughly exhausted possibilities for eliminating the tax increase.