Friday, November 05, 2010

Northampton County: No Tax Hike Next Year

"I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever do your job again."

That's what an exasperated Northampton County Council Prez Ron Angle told Executive John Stoffa at one point during a November 4 budget hearing. But when the smoke cleared at the end of 3 1/2 hours, seven Council members voted to support Angle and Stoffa's controversial no-tax-increase $290 million budget. Lamont McClure voted No and Ann McHale was absent. It's the first time since Home Rule that a County financial plan was adopted this early.

It's a budget that assumes the sale of Gracedale, the County nursing home, at some point next year. Only the first six months of operating expenses are funded.

It's also a budget that makes deep cuts in County personnel. It eliminates sixty vacant positions, as well as five positions that are occupied. County administrators told Council that no one will be laid off.

This bare bones budget also freezes wages being paid to professional part time employees, who are mostly lawyers. Council member John Cusick said, "It's tough for me to give payraises when seniors have seen no increases for two years." But a small raise (a net 1%) went to the County's nonunion workforce.

Council member Peg Ferraro, a Republican, cautioned her colleagues against cutting too deeply. "I know it's the most unpopular thing in the world to say, but we can't keep scaling back," she said. She voted for the budget, "with regret."

Lamont McClure, the sole Council member to vote against the no-tax-increase budget, claimed Gracedale is actually a "winning proposition" that has made money. He condemned "skulduggery" in the anticipated sale. But Council member Tom Dietrich claimed McClure was "sugar coating" the facts, noting Gracedale would cost the County $6 million in operating costs next year, to say nothing of the capitol improvements needed for an aging building.

By a 5-3 vote, Council voted against an Angle-led effort to eliminate the Director of Court Services, a cabinet level position held by Archie Disidore. Frustrated, Angle asked, "Where are we gong to get the money for this?"

"Gracedale," answered Cusick, drawing angry jeers from some nursing home advocates in the audience.

One County program preserved in an otherwise lean budget is the County's open space program. Throughout the year, up to $2 million will be spent for farmland preservation.

After the budget was adopted, Tom Dietrich proposed a 0.1 mill tax reduction, suggesting they dip into the reserve.

"Why not a 2 mill tax decrease? Why not 3?" scoffed Angle, who held his head in his hands as Dietrich argued for a small reduction. Dietrich's proposal failed 6-2, with only McClure joining him.

At the end of this meeting, Angle drew attention to the Gracedale debate, and noted that nursing home proponents have vilified and demonized him as the source of their troubles. He then produced a letter resigning as President and told Council he will step down if that is their wish. Angle's six Republican colleagues rejected his letter. Democrat McClure raised his hand to say something, but a satisfied Angle called for adjournment.

Want more? You can see excellent accounts in The Express Times and Morning Call.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

so, one minor hicup in the Gracedale sale and this budget is rendered a bust. Kudos to Lamont for managing to vote against a budget with cuts in it and for a proposed tax cut. I am sure he is hoping that sham will look good on his next re-elect materials.

c said...

Thank you county council for keeping some important programs intact, especially farmland preservation. Please continue to listen to the voters....I would not want your job right now, this recession is going to worsen.

Good Job John Stoffa.

Anonymous said...

Just once I'd like to see Peg Ferraro take a stand and lead. She's the quintessential spineless Pollyanna. Her votes are all over the place and I question whether her elevator goes all the way up any more. Does she really need the money and benefits? What a waste of space.

Hat tip to Angle for doing his and everybody's job.

Anonymous said...

Permission to change subject-

Surprise appearance by none other than Sam "Free Rakes" Bennett on Fox News this afternoon. She is director of a national organization promoting female political candidates. With her goofy "big bangs" hair cut and loopy smile she made a mess of trying to defend Nancy Pelosi as one of the most arrogant, despised and partisan Speakers of the House in our nation's history, and a reason for Tuesday's Republican massacre. Sam was all over the place with her weak arguments and was torn to shreds by the Fox anchor, also a woman. From her drunken "concession" speech when she lost to Afflerbach, through her pathetic run for Congress and embarassing leasership of POM it is amazing that she is still in a position of influence.

Anonymous said...

"trying to defend Nancy Pelosi as one of the most arrogant, despised and partisan Speakers of the House in our nation's history"

Did you forget Gingrich? Not only was he arrogant, he was despised by his own party by the time they lost seats in 1998. He had to resign or run the risk of losing an internal election. And now he's so arrogant that he's thinking of running for president.

Anonymous said...

"I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever do your job again."

Was Angle not the one that took it upon himself to do this? It is flawed in so many ways, it is only a shame Angle won't be around to see the negative affects of it.

Anonymous said...

Who asked him?????


The real sad thing is the current County Council is so spineless none of them confronted Angle. He deals a private budget between himself and Stoffa and makes like he's a martyr. Any self-respecting Council member would have told him next time let the Executive do his job and "WE" will do are job. County Council President is purely parliamentary in nature and they let him assume the role of the little Emperor. In the past Angle would have had an epileptic seizure if another Council President tried this bullshit.

As to his chiding of Dietrich I would say this to Mr. Angle. It will always be remembered that you, Thiery, Gilbert, Cusick and Dowd voted against a tax cut for the citizens of Northampton County.

This phony budget game Angle and Stoffa played fooled no one but the slow learners on County Council and in the Press.

Is there no limit to this mans ego and the others incompetence.

Next year after Gracedale is sold, there had better be a 20% tax cut. If not, they will all go down in the following election.

Anonymous said...

well it just gos to show that they won't say that over 30 of those 60 vacant spots that they are talking about happen to be at Gracedale but why would they let the public know that yes it is true over 30 jobs are not being filled at Gracedale just come in and ask any one of the employees your bound to find one that has been effected by that in some way or another it just goes to show you can't belive a word that comes out of angles mouth i truly belive he likes to just hear himself to me its just a waste of oxygen

Anonymous said...

classic angle not getting his way so says he will resign belive it when you see it he is nothing but full of lies

Anonymous said...

as for capital improvements at gracedale whos fault is that no ones but council which is made of republicans hello and stoffa that is who is to blame so maybe they should withhold their earnings and use them to make the improvements at gracedale angle should hand over presdency to Mr.Mcclure

Anonymous said...

What a mockery. Producing a letter of resignation after all the harm has been done. But I can't really blamed the guy, because the majority of his yellowback council colleagues created this beast. But oh, hold on tight to that tax break Northampton residents, those mere pennies you managed to save will be the catalyst of future unemployment hikes. What a frickin joke.

Anonymous said...

Angle/Stoffa need the Gracedale sale money to build their drug rehab complex. Angle also wants to build a new government building at Gracedale and name it after Stoffa. These two are destroying all that has been good in Northampton County.
Sad to watch.

Anonymous said...

No tax increase...hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Shouldn`t someone get some credit ?

Anonymous said...

Might as well give the credit to Stoffa he had no tax increase and he fully funded Gracedale. So in all reality, his budget was better than Angle's.

Credit? You get that at a Bank. Bullshit? You got that from Angle!

Anonymous said...

All I can say Northampton County residents is work your butt off now, because the tax increase that will be needed next year will blow you away!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

And you get plenty of cowardice from the Anons who attack when they do not have to ID themselves.

Anonymous said...

You are using the future sale gracedale money for 2011's openspace budget... Why not use some of the sale money to fund a tax cut now? You took MY money out of funding gracedale, now I want my money back!!!!

Anonymous said...

Agreed anon 12:21. Mr. Dietrich tired that but he was unaware of the secret deal between Angle and Stoffa. So Angle and his puppets voted against a tax cut.

"Buy Land,Sell Seniors", the Angle/
Stoffa motto

Anonymous said...

Hey asshole, why don't you crawl back in your rathole?

Anonymous said...

What is behind the Angle lead effort to eliminate the Director of Court Services?

Please enlighten us simple folk. Could it be a personal grudge he has against the wife of the Director who dared to defy Angle in an official capacity when he was seeking to advance a matter of personal gain?

You rant about officials abusing their office. Using a public office to get even with someone for a private grudge is despicable.

Yes, yes yes. You and he can deny it all you wish. But both you and he know that it is the truth.

Ron Angle threatens to step down said...

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/northampton-county/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/128901633258280.xml&coll=3

Lighthouse said...

As a taxpayer, I am glad that we do not have a tax increase this year. Thanks to all involved !

I was, however, a little disappointed reading the Express article "Angel threat shows discord". I was surprised at Angle's comments about Cusick being "out there on the fringe." Dietrich's move was not particularly responsible, but what has Cusick done that makes him "fringe"?

Anonymous said...

He did something not in the official Angle/Stoffa playbook. The Little Emperor does not tolerate democracy.

As an aside to Bernie, show you are not a hypocrite and delete anon 4:22 as a personal attack not even close to referencing an elected official. You have deleted others you didn't like that were a great deal more mild.

Anonymous said...

Just because Cusick is your Executive wannabe, don't promote his ideas over Dietrich's. Why was Dietrich out of line? He proposed a tax cut and he found a way to handle it. The no votes showed they are not on the side of the taxpayer but on the side of secret Angle/Stoffa deal making.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, I agree with you completely about Cusick, and told Ron so today. All he did was damage himself with that baloney. Cusick is a hard-working member of Council, is bright and experienced.

Dietrich has to learn to keep his mouth shut and to listen a little more He has been on Council less than a year and talks too much. Much of it is incomprehensible. At least two Council members (not Angle) had to ask him at the last meeting to explain himself. He's like an empty can.

Ron should never have gone beyond exactly what was said at the meeting. All he did was play into the hands of his real enemies.

Anonymous said...

Angle cut a secret budget deal with Stoffa. Why did the other Council members show up. McClure cut Angle short by telling him that. Mr. Deitrich proposed a tax cut and Angle voted "NO".

Pretty straight forward and out there. Reasonable, intelligent people can tell who the real fraud is in this mess.

Bravo to Dietrich for not being intimidated by the Angle. Even Dowd can't make that claim.



Calm Carl Chammers

Anonymous said...

Ron Angle might have the guts but doesn't have the intelligence, education, social skills or experience to ever do John Stoffa's job. I think that was a poor choice of words on his part.

Wayne said...

Anonymous said...
As an aside to Bernie, show you are not a hypocrite and delete anon 4:22 as a personal attack not even close to referencing an elected official. You have deleted others you didn't like that were a great deal more mild.
--------------------------------
You know, that post puzzled me. An anon calling someone (who?) a name. I'm sorry, this is terrible to say, but you anons all look alike to me. And if you don't ID the target of your venom I'm even more confused.

Somebody should sell programs identifying the players, just sayin'

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Angle cut a secret budget deal with Stoffa"

You've been fabricating stories like this for years. You read like a cRaZy idiot and end up making them look pretty damn good.

Anonymous said...

Gee, first the "empty can" goes outside the Angle script. Next thing you know, that bobble head cypher next to him will utter a novel idea as well rather than look to him how to vote on every issue.

Cusick on the fringe? Only someone with a distorted view of reality would make that statement. Conservative? yes. fringe? no. Fringe would be reserved for namesake wackadoodles.

This is a real group of heavyweights on council. I guess in the land of pygmies, that would make Angle a giant.

Anonymous said...

Angle should have criticized Ferraro for voting with him and then making statements that threw him under the bus for her vote. She was too cowardly to own her own vote.

Anonymous said...

Ferraro is the only sane voice here..They keep avoiding a needed increase here and eventually will be forced into a very large increase..I am sick of these attacks on Ferraro..She's the only one with guts enough to fight the tide..Way to go Peg..Thanks for your courage..

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Anonymous said...

Raising taxes is easy. Saying no and cutting spending in tough times is difficult. Parents learn this early on.

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Anonymous said...

This County Council voted no to a tax cut. Only Dietrich and McClure supported it. So in essence the rest of the Council voted to raise our taxes by not supporting the cut.

nugh said!!!