Bethlehem had been given $13 million to construct Commerce Boulevard, but came in a little over $2 million under budget. Bethlehem wanted to keep all of the money as a reward, but agreed to return all but $686 thousand. The City was supposed to use that money for signage and shrubbery along Commerce Boulevard, but is waiting until other infrastructure improvements are completed.
An exasperated County Council, led by John Cusick, voted to take the money back to use for improvements at Gracedale. The usually quiet Michael Dowd pointed out that doing so would violate an agreement in which he was one of the negotiators.
Cusick's ordinance passed 5-4, but those votes will not be enough to override John Stoffa's veto. In his veto message, Stoffa noted that the "honor and integrity of Northampton County would suffer if it reneged on this obligation."
Stoffa also notes that Bethlehem has agreed to return another $300 thousand to the County.
Northampton County Council has made its point concerning Bethlehem, which has certainly lost its "most favored city" status. But County Executive Stoffa has also made clear that the County must honor its word.
Stoffa's veto message is below.
Veto Ordinance-Bethlehem Commerce Ctr. Proj. 1.27.10