|Nancy Run Fire Chief Jamie Hauze pitches firetruck|
Tom Nolan, representing Bethlehem Township, argued that emergency services are clearly included in what the legislature intended when it gave communities surrounding Bethlehem Sands Casino the first crack at gaming revenue. Those municipalities are Hanover Township, Hellertown, Lower Saucon Township, Freemansburg and Bethlehem Township
"If you keep whittling this down, you're putting money into the wrong account," he argued, referring to grants for other communities. But as might be expected, a Gaming Board member from one of those other communities disagreed.
Tony Pristash, an at-large member from Northampton, objected to "calling the other account the wrong account." He noted that surrounding communities, to be entitled to first crack at gaming revenue, must show a direct impact. Jim Pennington, another at-large member from Lower Nazareth, worried about the precedent this big ticket item would set in the five contiguous municipalities.
"Do they need it? Yes," said Hellertown representative David Heintzelman. "But I struggle with the word 'direct' impact."
Joe Kelly, representing Bethlehem, supported the grant, noting that Bethlehem Township is a back up to the two ladder trucks in service in Bethlehem. He said they have an obligation "to protect that asset," referring to the Sands casino. But Northampton County EMS Director Bob Mateff noted that numerous other communities also back up Bethlehem, including SeWyCo, Allentown and even Easton. He added it is rare to see both Bethlehem aerial ladder trucks go out of service.
Voting for the grant were Nolan, Freemansburg Mayor Gerald Yob, Lower Saucon representative David Willard and Bethlehem's Joe Kelly. Opposed were Heintzelman, Pennington, Pristash and at-large member John Dally. Chairman Jay Finnigan, who represents Hanover Township, was the final No vote.
"And let me tell you why. We have an aerial being specced [on spec] right now, and I couldn't justify giving Hanover $550,000.
Other grant requests were approved.
Hellertown: $213,155.03 to fund the cost of two police officers.How much money is available? According to Nolan, the Gaming Board's treasurer, $403,688 was received for the first three months of the year, down from about $440,000 last year.
Northampton County: $10,000 for interpreter fees.
Northampton County: $184,000 for gambling addiction treatment.
Lower Saucon: $29,342 for a police vehicle and $90,482 for the cost of an officer.
Bethlehem: $128,883 to remount an ambulance onto a new chassis.
Bethlehem: $75,000 towards a $400,000 sign program directing tourists to different attractions.
Freemansburg: $103,723 to replace two aging police vehicles.
Bethlehem Township: $99,181 for two police cruisers and $7,049 for a polygraph.