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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

$710,747 in Gaming Funds Awarded to 16 NorCo Municipalities

Joe Kelly
Northampton County's nine-member Gaming Authority, at their September 22 meeting, placed a priority on public safety. They voted to provide the money for seven new police vehicles, establishment of the Slate Belt Police Department headquarters, in-car police cameras, a thermal imaging to help police during rescue operations, a computer work station for law enforcement, police radios, security cameras, speed radar signs and a breathing apparatus for firefighters. They also funded the purchase of road crew truck. Of 35 applications received for over $1.5 million, 16 municipalities were awarded a total of $710,747.

Each of the 35 applications received a numerical rating by each Board member.

The 6th highest rated application was a combined request by Wind Gap, Pen Argyl and Plainfield for $150,000 to help establish the Slate Belt Police Department, a new regionalize police force in Northampton County. This project had the support of Northampton County Council member Scott Parsons, who was President of Wind Gap Borough Council.

But Ken Kraft, the Northampton County Council non-voting liaison, argued that application should be rejected because Wind Gap mishandled a previous grant award in 2012. Executive Director Karen Collis explained that the previous grant award to Wind Gap "fell within the scope of the entire project." She added that Wind Gap did file a late compliance report, but did return unspent grant funds.

Kelly pointed out that Wind Gap's noncompliance was made known to all board members before they rated each project, and still came in at #6. "It finished fairly high in the overall ranking of the projects," he observed.  

By a 7-2 vote, the Gaming Authority voted to fully fund the 16 most worthy grants, as opposed to partially funding each municipal request.

Bethlehem Township Commissioner Tom Nolan, whose township's request was rated #30, advocated a distribution to each grant applicant, where "everybody goes away with something." Freemansburg Mayor Gerald Yob, whose Borough's application was rated at #28, joined Nolan in voting unsuccessfully against fully funding the highest rated projects.

Joe Kelly, representing the City of Bethlehem, countered Nolan's argument by noting that that some municipalities would lack the resources to fund the difference between what is needed and a pro rata award. Chairman Jay Finnigan agreed, noting that Tatamy in particular, had warned "they are pretty strapped for money." Joining Kelly and Finnigan in voting to fully fund the 16 most worthy projects were David J. Heintzelman, David Willard, Tony Pristash, John Dally,Jr. and James Pennington.

The highest rated projects, in order, are as follows:
  • Stockertown - $30,000 for a new police vehicle and accessories
  • Bangor -$47,461 for emergency response police vehicle and equipment
  • Bushkill - $50,00 for two new outfitted police vehicles
  • Forks - $36,531 for new outfitted police vehicle
  • Washington - $45,971 for Ford Expedition police vehicle with four-wheel drive 
  • Pen Argyl, Plainfield and Wind Gap - $150,000 to establish Slate Belt Police Station
  • Roseto - $50,000 for fire company breathing apparatus and portable police radios
  • N Catasauqua - $28,415 for updated in-car cameras
  • Upper Nazareth - $10,625 for thermal imaging equipment in search and rescue operations
  • Hellertown - $47.985 for new police vehicle and forced entry equipment
  • Lower Saucon -$9,398 for 16 security cameras at township complex
  • Hanover - $39,000 for two radar speed signs
  • Lower Nazareth - $49,431 for traffic signal battery back-ups
  • Tatamy - $28,058 for road crew truck and police computer work station
  • East Allen - $42,897 for security cameras at three municipal locations
  • Palmer - $48,965 for computerized accident and crime scene mapping software
You can see all 35 grant applications, and how they were rated, here

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

who were the two dissenting votes?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yon and Nolan. As I report in my story

Anonymous said...

How did Collis vote?

Anonymous said...

are the members of this board compensated in any way?

Anonymous said...

joe kelly is a handsome man...

Anonymous said...

Amazing.. Bethlehem Township came back with nothing and so did Freemansburg. The deck has been stacked against them for some time. Their own neighboring communities have even put the screws to them. It goes to show that their leadership has let them down. The people running the place have no respect nor clout with Northampton County and the communities. Someone needs to find out why? Where is Zawarski on this issue?

Anonymous said...

Do u know who is who on the report? It would be interesting to know which member is which.

Anonymous said...

The gaming share in the Lehigh Valley is broken. Northampton County Communities 30+ miles from Mount Airy benefit from millions in gaming money, however, very little for non contiguous communities in Lehigh County. I think the Northampton County gaming board was correct in attempting to spread the gaming benefit to other communities who had limited benefit in the past.

Anonymous said...

"some municipalities would lack the resources to fund the difference"

Wow. This statement screams out for the need to consolidate some of these poor smaller municipalities back into the townships from whence they came.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Do u know who is who on the report? It would be interesting to know which member is which."

Your question is unclear.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Amazing.. Bethlehem Township came back with nothing and so did Freemansburg. The deck has been stacked against them for some time."

Actually, the deck is stacked very much in their favor. They control 2 of the 9 votes. Freemansburg, in particular,was the big winner on the very first occasion that gaming funds were awarded.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"are the members of this board compensated in any way?"

Not at all.

Anonymous said...

There are 9 voting members on the board of directors. Karen Collis has no vote she just does all the work for the county. Joe Kelly, bethlehems liaison on the board voted the right way and Bethlehem lost out, they were number 17 on the list. The only two selfish people on this commission that need to be removed are Yobb and Nolan who make a habit of not knowing the laws and understanding of the gaming impact fee language and consistently vote contrary to the act.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How did Collis vote?"

She is the Executive Director, not a voting Board member.

Anonymous said...

It lists member 1, member 2, etc. Do you have the name of the member to go with that description?

Anonymous said...


ABSTRACTThis paper presents a case for the amalgamation of local government municipalities in parts of the US and, in particular, rural Pennsylvania (PA). It presents a case by first examining recent international trends in local government management including council consolidations (or mergers) and second, by showing that municipalities in rural PA are, for the most part, too small to: 1) be democratically effective, 2) attract and retain quality management, and 3) deliver the services their constituents expect. This paper concludes by suggesting that the present structure of local municipalities in rural PA is out of date and reform is needed.

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/53425727/consolidating-rural-pennsylvania-local-government-taxpayers-choice


Bernie O'Hare said...

"It lists member 1, member 2, etc. Do you have the name of the member to go with that description?"

How each member rated each app is not stated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this story, Bernie. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Yobb is a good man and knows the law. to say he does not is not fair.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Township got nothing because they don't know how to prioritize their needs.

Anonymous said...

I think if you would add up all of the gaming grant money awarded over the years the big winners would be BT and especially Freemansburg. Can you obtain such a list, Bernie?

Anonymous said...

@11:01,
Remember, there are two different phases of these grants. The direct impact portion is restricted to the municipalities contiguous to the city of Bethlehem, and the indirect is available to every municipality in the county. Freemansburg got an overwhelming majority of the very first direct impact grants to renovate their municipal building, which houses the police department as well. As a result, it was determined to never fund any project that large again. That's why the BT aerial truck grant was rejected. Hellertown/Lower Saucon is right up there with funds allocated as well. Hanover makes few requests for impact funding because they request funding through Monroe's system, which is administered by the Commonwealth. At that level, you don't have to stroke anyone's ego to get funding. The Commonwealth just writes a check.

Anonymous said...

To 7:21,
Lehigh County also receives Gaming funds so the communities in Lehigh County would need to go to them for funds.

Anonymous said...

Friend at1252. Wow, $710k is a lot of money for Northampton County to distribute in round 2! Earlier this year Northampton County municipalities benefited from an additional $1.5m is gaming share from Monroe County. In Lehigh County, table games proceeds are dedicated for contiguous municipalities. From slot, 60% of the Local share goes to Allentown, 20% to the County, and the last 20% to non contiguous municipalities. This year they only had $121k to distribute and gave it to the same two municipalities that have been awarded in prior years.

The local share distribution is remarkably unbalanced.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I think if you would add up all of the gaming grant money awarded over the years the big winners would be BT and especially Freemansburg. Can you obtain such a list, Bernie? "

I believe most of this information is available online.

Anonymous said...

The local share distribution is remarkably unbalanced.

So are the benefits Allentown gets from the NIZ. Aside from Fountain Hill, impact in Lehigh County is minimal. Distributions of gaming funds were all deals cut in the back rooms in Harrisburg State Senate by Browne and Boscola. Register your complaint there.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me how Buskill township is directly effected by the casino?? This money should be directed towards property tax reduction rather than new toys for non effected communities. What a shame.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is the uncommitted round. There is no need to show impact.

Anonymous said...

"joe kelly is a handsome man..."

He is no Jim Gregory!

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem township has already received and spent over $900,000.00 dollars of gaming monies

Freemansburg over. $1,800,000.00

Hellertown $925,000.00

They are well represented by their people who are on the board.

Anonymous said...

This is the same year after year and year after year it disgusts me.

The police do not need shiny new cars every year to perform their duties. There are much better uses for this money... like perhaps paying our other county employees wages that are competitive with our surrounding counties.

But the big blue beast must be fed.

Anonymous said...

Why is Joe Kelly still on this Board. Is he not staff for Lisa Boscola one of the architects of this corrupt system to hand out the Sands' money? This smells. Looks like Lisa is in real control of some now new form of walking around money! Hoping Bernie looks at this one a little deeper.

the other Ron said...

Bernie, is there some requirement that it must be spent on police and fire requests?

Bernie O'Hare said...

There are four categories, and public safety is one of them. It could go to other needs as well. It's pretty broad.

Anonymous said...

Joe Kelly as well as Alicia Karner were big tem Callahan people. With the Callahan loss, Boscola came in to make peace. She took in Kelly so he had a job and convinced her friend Donchez to hire Karner.

Without Bocola they would both be on the outside looking in.