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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas City Giving Hanover Lump of Coal

Joe Kelly discusses Bethlehem recycling facility
Hanover Township residents have received two Christmas presents this year. The one they like is the seventh no tax-hike budget in a row from Supervisors, who approved their spending plan for next year at their December 17 meeting. But the other gift is more like a lump of coal, in the form of a 18.4% proposed water rate hike from Bethlehem. Supervisors are weighing their options, which do include a possible complaint with the Public Utility Commission. They did end their meeting by going into into executive session, but it's unclear whether this private meeting concerned the water rate proposal or some other matter.

Michael Prendeville, who lives on Karen Drive, urged Supervisors to complain to the PUC, adding that he intends to do so himself. "The no new tax pledge of the outgoing Mayor was just shifted to the utility board," he complained. Supervisor Steve Salveson added that he is getting numerous calls from residents. "It's good to know there are citizens who are concerned about it," noted Chairman John Diacogiannis.

Township Manager Jay Finnigan told Supervisors about several exchanges he had with Bethlehem's Water and Sewer Director, David Brong. He learned that the $1.1 million rate increase proposed by Bethlehem is the equivalent of 0.78 mills in Bethlehem taxes. Hanover will contribute $277,512 to the increase. Most of the money will come from residential customers, not businesses.

Prendeville had earlier told Supervisors that Bethlehem was paying down its deficit "on the backs of Hanover Township's people."

Bethlehem's current annual residential cost is $321.06, already the highest annual cost of the Lehigh Valley's three cities. Allentown's annual cost is just $273.32, while Easton Suburban charges $307.66. If the rate hike is granted, Bethlehem will charge residential customers $380.17.

Supervisors have until January 25, 2014, to appeal the proposed rate hike.

Ironically, Bethlehem's outgoing Director of Economic Development, Joe Kelly, was at the meeting, too. But he was there to review plans to expand the recycling facility, and left before the discussion turned to the Christmas City.

Public Works Director Vince Milite, a fixture at most meetings, was in a plow truck as a result of some last-minute squalls. Finnigan told Supervisors he just ordered  250 tons of road salt. "If you know anyone who can invoke novenas, we could use the help," he concluded.


Anonymous said...

Joe Kelly certainly is a hot commodity. Just the past month I have heard his name mentioned beyond rumor for appointment to city council, a prominent position in another municipality, a position with a state legislator, and long term mayoral ambition. Obviously he cannot be all. He seems to be courted by many, distrusted by some, and in the enviable position to survey the possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Ed Boscola will get the costs down...fat chance.

Anonymous said...

If the Township feels the City is screwing them why don't they build their own water treatment facility.

Anonymous said...

More township freeloading.
Whaaa..Whaaaa....We want the services of a city but not the costs.

Hoity tooitdy Hanover.

Anonymous said...

Word is there will be at least ten people submitting resumes to city council.

Let us see how professionally this dysfunctional group handles themselves. Hopefully they will actually wait to hear all the candidates before making up their minds. A lot of people are putting faith in Evans, Waldron and Callahan to be open and honest.

Rumors are they have two favorites but they better stand head and shoulders above the others or the bullshit will shine though again.

Anonymous said...

the resumes are a joke. the next council person will be decides before the sop called meeting to select. Only a fool would trust the self center evans. boy never passed a mirror he didn't like.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I feel so bad for those soccer moms in their SUVs and 1/2 million dollar homes! How unfair, they might have to turn off the yard sprinklers in the summer! God forbid suburbanites would help pay their share for the extension of urban infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting on a job with a state legislator for Kelly. City council doesn't pay much, he can't wait that long to run for Mayor without bumping Willie and other municipalities can see through his BS (Callahan style).

Anonymous said...

Quality drinking water, the best public water I ever had, costs money to maintain. If Hanover is upset with the fees, I am sure they can dig a well, or call Allentown, I mean the LCA, to provide water.

Anonymous said...

Bernie - any additional details on what was discussed about the recycling facility?

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem residetns are paying this tax too. Had it been Easton they would have hit folks with a commuter tax and a local income tax on the folks and have been done with it.

Then Sal would have called those that complain "lilly white".

Makes me almost wish Callahan was not a lame duck!

Anonymous said...


I think the concern is that the rate increase really had nothing to do with the cost of providing the service

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:46,
The rate increase has everything to do providing the service. The capital improvements needed are expensive. It is expensive to maintain the system. There are pipes that are 50 yrs old or more in the ground.
Also, the rate increase won't be 15%. It will be closer to 8 or 9%. It is a game with the PUC. You need to ask for more than you really want.
Also, if this was really an issue, Dave Digi would not have voted for the water budget last night.

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:06, I went in the hall to talk to someone during about half the presentation, so I do not feel comfortable telling you what might turn out to me bad information. Let me check some more. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Why do all your articles need to turn into ranst on every subject but the subject matter?

Your friend the mayor has bankrupted the city and needs to continue to rob Peter to pay Paul.

How much excess revenue will the water department receive that will be transferred into the general funds to cover operating costs? About $1M that should have been the amount of the property tax the mayor dodged.

He has used every funds possible to make up for his mismanagement. Last year he sold the parking authority out and this year it's the water department.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the concern is not about increases itself, but rather how the money is utilized. Bethlehem is known to have multiple material weaknesses as cited by their own independent auditor's reports.

Anonymous said...

Anon 704, you know not of what you speak. Read the city's budget. It is online. The residents of Hanover can find someone else to provide water if they are unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Wait until donchez creates a water operating authority, and they bypass the puc. 5% increase annually.

Anonymous said...

Anon 817 - don't care about the city budget, it does not mean anything - read previous years auditors report. It cites:

- We identified certain deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be material weaknesses

Finding 2010-02: Pooling of Cash
The City utilizes a pooled cash account for several funds, resulting in the bon·owing
of restricted money across fimds.
Criteria: The City has deposited, into the pooled cash account, monies that are restricted for
specific purposes. The City should be using restricted funds only for their restricted purpose.

Cause: Restricted cash is co-mingled with unrestricted cash in one bank account.

Effect: The City used restricted fimds for expenditures in the General Fund.

Recommendation: We recommend that the City review the applicable bond documents and other
sources of restricted funding to ensure compliance with applicable terms and conditions. We
would recommend that the City consult legal counsel as pmi of this review.

'nuff said

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why do all your articles need to turn into ranst on every subject but the subject matter?"

Because my readers wander.

Anonymous said...

Hey Einstein,

What did the 2011 and 2012 audit report say and show? You obviously don't want to talk about those as they show appropriate changes were made and the City is now better off than 2010.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd agree there. We know 2010 was bad. But lots of important changes were made. This is where I feel Callahan gets shortchanged by his critics. If he steps up and says I will do this better, and does, that should be pointed out, too.

But this is about the water. Is that rate hike really justified? Is Bethlehem pulling a fast one on other townships? If not, fine, let's move on. But the question does need to be asked and answered.

Bethlehem does have does drinking water.

But it's not Kool-Aid.

If everyone is fair about this, I think we can get our answers and move on.

Anonymous said...

Amen and thanks Bernie.

Interesting demographics you have tracking your blog.

- Einstein

Anonymous said...

This is the problem when you only have teachers and lawyers as elected officials.
They just pass on more and more taxes and fees to the taxpayers.
these officials have no concept of the struggles of the average resident fighting to hang on.

Anonymous said...

The prominent position in another municipality must be Bethlehem Township. That would be an excellent fit for the Township and Joe. He brings a wealth of experience from his law and government workings. He knows the inside workings of Bethlehem City and the County. This can all be used to mend the division between the Township and City. After losing a very fine Manager the Township would only be so lucky to land Joe!

BO what is the status of the Manager search in Bethlehem?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is ongoing. I do not know if Joe, a lawyer, is interested.

Anonymous said...

Anon 830,

You can keep bringing up shit from 2010, but none of that had anything to do with the water fund. The water fund is not a restricted account.
BO, the rate hike is justified based on the capital improvements needed to the system.
Look, if this was not justified Dave Digi would have voted against it and raised a stink.
If you think rates are high now, wait until Donchez pushes through the Operating Authority. 5-8% increases annually, without the need to go to the PUC.

Anonymous said...

The taxpayers of Bethlehem need representation. They get none now.

At least in Northampton County the new county council will not raise taxes of any kind.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There will be at least thirty applicants of the vacancy.

Unknown said...

Jim Gregory is applying for the city council vacancy. This is not a joke. He mailed in a rambling letter to the city clerk's office today.

Karen said...

I forgot to sign my name to that last post.


Anonymous said...

That could very well be true. There is word out Bernie that Gregory ahs been sending a few of his manifestos from the prison to some people.
Apparently they portray one without remorse and make it clear that when released, he will be taking court action against quite a few people.

You may be one of them.