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Mayor: ‘City is in best financial position in a long time’

Employee raises and increased taxes await Bethlehem City residents in 2024.

Tuesday, Nov. 14, Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds spoke to a crowd assembled at Foy Hall at Moravian University, hosted by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce. He presented his ideas regarding Bethlehem’s 2024 budget.

Endearing himself to the crowd by speaking of the many positive aspects of the city’s recent past and current successes, Reynolds identified a $113 million 2024 budget with a 2.6 percent property tax increase.

“The city is in the best financial position in a long, long time,” Reynolds said, adding that the city has an AA-Pennsylvania City Bond Rating. Reynolds pointed out that this rating is “stable” and encourages businesses and people to come to Bethlehem.

Reynolds talked about the stability and continuity of the city – and the changes it has undergone since the closing of Bethlehem Steel, in 1995. The traits that draw new businesses include having a clean, healthy, safe city and a strong economy. Reynolds also pointed out that Bethlehem has maintained a low earned income tax of 1 percent.

The budget also calls for the hiring of four additional paramedics to reduce the need to call on neighboring ambulance services.

“The city’s revenue will outpace its expenses next year, allowing it to easily cover those costs,” Reynolds predicted.

The City of Bethlehem found itself $170 million in debt in 2015, Reynolds reminded his audience. The city has paid off $71 million as of 2023 but still has $99 million in old debt.

Reynolds stressed the need to pay sustainable expenses like old debt, salaries and health care with sustainable revenues. The $2.8 million increase in city expenses, Reynolds said, includes the hiring of four additional paramedics, contractual increases, and police bodycam and dashboard cameras.

A final budget hearing is set for Nov. 30, when a more detailed presentation will be available for the public.

PRESS PHOTO BY JENN RAGO Mayor J. William Reynolds addresses chamber and community members regarding his 2024 proposed budget at Foy Hall at Moravian University.
IMG_ 7627 Senor Vice President of Bethlehem Initiatives Tammy Welding welcomed guests as she introduced Mayor J. William Reynolds on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.