Berks commissioners OK 3.87% tax increase for 2018

Commissioner Mark Scott cast lone 'no' vote

READING, Pa. - Berks County residents will see a higher property tax bill in the new year.

The commissioners, by a vote of 2-1, approved Thursday morning a $532.2 million budget, which includes a tax increase of 3.87 percent.

That means a $12 annual increase for the average home in Reading, which is assessed at $41,395; a $31 increase for a home assessed at $107,817; and a $57 increase for a home assessed at $200,000.

Commissioner Mark Scott cast the lone "no" vote. His fellow Republican on the board, Christian Leinbach, and Democrat Kevin Barnhardt voted "yes," adding that they were reluctant to do so, but felt they had no other choice.

The increase is slightly lower than the 4.08 percent hike that was proposed in November.

The county's chief financial officer, Robert J. Patrizio, said that for the first time in five years, the county's revenues do not equal its operating expenses, causing a $5.3-million operating deficit.

Without any tax increase, he said the county could expect deficits for at least the next four years, including a $5.6-million deficit in 2019 and a $14.1-million deficit in 2022.

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