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Council fails to override Allentown mayor's veto, leaving city without a finalized 2024 budget

Allentown City Council
Jason Addy
Allentown City Council failed to override Mayor Matt Tuerk's budget veto Wednesday night.

    ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown voters could yet see an increase on their property tax bills next year after City Council members failed to override the Mayor Matt Tuerk's budget veto.

    Wednesday night's 4-3 vote keeps Tuerk’s veto in place and leaves the city without a finalized spending plan for next year.

    Council on Nov. 4 slashed millions in spending from the mayor's initial proposal, which included a 6.9% tax increase, to balance the budget with no new revenues. It also shot down Tuerk’s counter-proposal for a 4.5% increase.

    Tuerk vetoed that budget Nov. 8, asking council to consider a 2% tax increase to fund raises within the city’s police department and emergency medical services, which the mayor said are key to retaining those workers.

    That tax increase also would pay for a sustainability coordinator in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and a manager for the city’s new office for diversity, equity and inclusion.

    Council members Ed Zucal and Ce-Ce Gerlach led an unsuccessful push Wednesday night to override Tuerk’s veto. That sends the city back to square one in its budget negotiating process.

    Council members Cynthia Mota and Natalie Santos joined Zucal and Gerlach in voting for the override; Daryl Hendricks, Candida Affa and Santo Napoli voted against it.

    Affa and Hendricks said they support the 2% tax increase because they believe the city must raise taxes in small increments to stave off a much larger increase in the future.

    Mota said she believes the “community is going to suffer” under any tax increase.

    “Six dollars, $10 is a big difference for a lot of people,” she said.

    Council made a series of procedural votes to reconsider the 2024 budget that council approved Nov. 4 and the mayor's 2% increase.

    But members shot down the 2% increase 4-3 in an identical vote to the override.

    "We have no budget, and we will be back at the [negotiating] table," Hendricks said just before adjourning the meeting.