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Those who hold line on taxes show critical compassion

The county, much like many school districts earlier this year, is moving forward with a budget that holds the line on taxes.

We believe this is not just appropriate during a year when a global pandemic took a hard swing at our economy and people’s livelihoods — it is compassionate.

At the same time, we are watching many other municipalities — boroughs and townships — coming out with similar no-tax-hike budgets.

Next up will be the city budget, and we hope that the city proposal also will reflect a tight line on taxes.

That won’t necessarily be easy. This past week, city departments submitted their annual appropriations requests, and they came in $1.79 million higher than a year ago, or 7.14 percent.

“This is simply a starting point,” observed Mayor Derek Slaughter, adding that it will most likely change between now and final passage of a budget next month.

We certainly hope so. Look, we realize that there are needs, that it’s not just about payroll but also equipment and goals such as moving City Hall offices and building a public safety building. But we also are concerned about the ability of taxpayers to pay the bills that allow them to hang onto their homes when they are out of jobs due to the pandemic.

And we don’t know how it will play out next year, how soon the vaccine will be ready for distribution, how quickly our economy will be able to bounce back or when the type of employment environment that we had before the pandemic will return.

Who remembers that? Just one year ago, there were more “Help Wanted” signs in shop windows than we could recall ever seeing before. There was keen competition to hire not just the best and the brightest, but anybody with the correct qualifications for the job.

It was stunning.

That’s what we need again. What we do not need are higher taxes and people losing their homes because they are struggling in an unprecedented environment.

We have faith in our city leaders that they will do what is right for the people in the end, even if that means delaying projects and putting off spending long enough to get us through this crisis.

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