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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

How Nazareth Can Lose $77,500

Nazareth not among municipalities at last Gaming Board
hearing, but thinks it will get $50,000
Northampton County's Gaming Authority, which is funded from the Bethlehem Sands Casino slots revenue, has two different grant programs. First, these are impact grants to deal with traffic or public safety concerns caused by the casino. These are limited to the five municipalities surrounding Bethlehem. If enough money is left, there's a second round of grants open to everyone. No impact need be shown. In 2012 and this year, up to $50,000 for each municipality is available. Nazareth seems to think it's going to get $39,750 for its pool patio. I think it's likely it will get nothing, and that's because it failed to do anything with its 2012 grant.

In 2012, Nazareth was awarded $27,500 in uncommitted gaming funds to extend Stoudt Boulevard from its to Gracedale Avenue. Under the terms of the grant, the project had to be finished by October 2013.

This money was really sought for the Nazareth Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which was planning to build a new headquarters in Upper Nazareth, closer to Gracedale. . Though designated a separate nonprofit, it's under the borough's thumb. Its 2012 nonprofit tax return, the most recent one on record, lists the Mayor, two Council members, the Borough Solicitor and the Borough Secretary among its eight board members.

This direct connection between a municipality and a supposedly independent nonprofit certainly undermines the public trust. They vote for Council members and a Mayor, not an ambulance company.

It certainly appears that Nazareth subordinated other needs in the borough, like its aging police fleet, for the ambulance company. It applied for this grant without even knowing whether it would still be providing service to Gracedale because a new contract was being bid, and eventually resulted in litigation.

Council minutes show that Nazareth never even bothered to condemn the land it needs for this roadway until September 2013, right before its gaming grant from the County was set to expire.

"We were a victim of circumstances," complained one Borough official of Nazareth's failure to use its grant money within the time frame allowed. Actually, it appears more like Nazareth was jumping the gun, and was focused on the ambulance company to the detriment of everything else.      

Last week, Council member Frank Maurek complimented borough officials on securing a $50,000 grant for the pool patio. Actually, Nazareth never bothered sending anyone to the Gaming Board to explain why $50,000 is needed. All the Board knows is that the last time it gave Nazareth money, it was for nothing. Gaming Board members also indicated they will be looking with suspicion on grant applications from municipalities with a lousy track record. That's Nazareth.

Nazareth Borough Council does not exist to run an ambulance company, but to run the borough. My guess is that its misplaced focus means that, instead of getting $77,500 in gaming grants, it may get nothing. If it wants wants to reduce an anticipated two-mill tax hike next year, it really owes it to the people of Nazareth to send someone who can explain what is wanted and why. I think it's already too late.


Anonymous said...

My understanding from someone at the gaming board hearing, not named O'Hare, is that there is only about $650K available for the 30-some municipalities seeking up to $50,000 (do the math) each. Therefore, the gaming board isn't going to waste time on applications from towns that did not bother to show up to represent themselves.

Anonymous said...

The board must act professionally. They must not act like little Lords who need to have their rings kissed to give out the money. If the cause is just, fine. Why the need to humble yourself before these so-called "experts". It is all about their ego. Beg me peons. Shameful. They are handpicked political cronies who are carefully selected to reflect what administrations desires. Most of these are left over
Stoffa hacks. They also keep an eye on their own personal biases.

Anyone refused, should go speak to county council about the attitude of board members. They can be replaced and in some cases should be.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Nazareth Borough provided vehicle insurance for Nazareth Volunteer Ambulance Corps, under Nazareth Borough's vehicle policy. So when Nazareth Volunteer Ambulance Corps are responding to Wind Gap Borough, Bushkill Twp, Upper Nazareth Twp and County owned nursing homes, and get into a accident. It's ONLY us Nazareth Borough citizens who are paying for it. It's ONLY us Nazareth Borough citizens paying for higher premiums, and getting dropped from almost every insurance provider because of it. It's ONLY us Nazareth Borough citizens who's taxes go up every year because of it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Thus it appears to be a conflict for a Nazareth Borough Council member to use the authority of his public office to advance the private pecuniary of Nazareth Ambulance Corps. Yet that is precisely what is happening. ...blah blah blah"

They are acting professionally. That's the point. If someone wants $50k in public funds, it needs to justify the request. If a municipality blew a precious grant request, there better be a justification that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

"They must not act like little Lords who need to have their rings kissed to give out the money. If the cause is just, fine. Why the need to humble yourself before these so-called "experts""

Because you are asking for $50,000. They aren't going to just hand it out because you asked. You demonstrate need, and you're right here so why not show up and be available for discussion and questions about your proposal?

If you don't have one representative who can spare an hour or two and sit and wait for your town to be discussed, I would go along with "why should we bother?"

You seem to be taking a political stance on this - I don't know why that is. There is a right way and a wrong way to pursue grants. Not investing the right amount of energy and time is the wrong way.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think we know who are acting like little Lords, and it is not the Gaming Board.

Anonymous said...

The Nazareth Ambulance is a non-profit and has been for quite some time. Even though is was kept under raps from the taxpayers of Nazareth for some time. The taxpayers should have NO financial involvement with the Ambulance what so ever. Likewise the Ambulance should pay more to the Borough for the parking and protection of it's vehicles on public property.
As for Council members on the Board. Maybe fine years ago but not today

Bernie O'Hare said...

It probably can stand on its own.