About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Only Bethlehem Tp Will Fight Over No-Tax Hike Budget

Michael Hudak
For the sixth straight year, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted last night to adopt a no-tax hike budget. This one was a no-brainer. But not in Bethlehem Township. Arguments erupted over 4-way stop signs, back-room meetings, fire rescue trucks, a $200,000 shitter, a raise of up to 3% for 17 non-union employees and the power of the Evil Bulldogs.  Before I get into the histrionics, let me lay out the facts.

The Facts

A taxpayer in a median market value home worth $177,618, can expect to see the same $521 tax bill he saw in 2014. It's his lowest tax bill, too. County taxes last year were $940, while school taxes were $4,428. The millage rate is 5.99 mills.

It does spends $1.6 million more than it takes in. This shortfall will be made up by taking money from the fund balance On paper, the fund balance is projected to drop $2 million over the next year and end at just $1.46 million. Funds on reserve will only be 10% of the budget. Freda stated that the reserve should be between 12-18%.

The Township's largest revenue source is Act 511 taxes, which consist of transfer taxes, earned income taxes and business mercantile taxes. These provide 31% of the Township's revenue. Real estate taxes, the second largest revenue source, brings in 27% of the Township's income.

The biggest drain on revenue is personnel. Ten years ago, the Township had 93 employees. Today, there are just 85 left, represented by three different unions.

Shit water cameras

Pat Breslin, who has missed three Board meetings this year, had a large audience of fellow tea party members in the audience. Not one of them attended a single budget hearing. Only two of them are regular attendees. But last night, they all suddenly became financial experts with all kinds of observations.

One of them, who was wearing goggles for underwater diving, is a shit expert, He questioned the cost of some camera system for viewing shit water, something I admit escaped my notice. Now I have no idea why municipalities buy cameras for watching shit water, but they do. This guy has a system himself, He might even have a few stills of some ploppers hanging on his wall. He told Manager Melissa Shafer that there are all kinds of shit shows where you can pick these cameras up real cheap. He goes to them all the time.

Shafer smiled, like she does at everyone, even me. But i don't think she'll be going to any shit show any time soon.

$200,000 shitters

Michael Hudak was blowin' oil over $200,000 shitters slated for what they like to call the North 40. Normal people would call it the Bulldogs' playing fields. Bulldogs is the name of the Township's Athletic Association.

You see, even in Bethlehem Township, people do shit. And during football and softball games, they shit a lot, Moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers. Especially after ordering nachos. Hudak sneered at people who "feel embarrassed" to use a port-a-john, and argued the only reason this was included in the budget was politics.

"The Bulldogs are a large group of voters." he observed. But he's not about the politics, although he claimed to have spoken to a lot of people who feel like he does, so maybe he is about the politics and is just full of shit from not using the shitter enough. I don't know.

Hudak always ends his speeches with, "That is all I have to say."

Tom Nolan, who is up for election next year and supports the $200,000 shitters, was very offended at the suggestion that his vote was political.

He pointed out that the shitters are also being used for storage. I have no idea what will be stored there, and don't want to know.

From the floor, Martin Comer complained that the Bulldogs tell people who to vote for when they register their kids to play sports. Most bulldogs would call that bullshit.

One of the Bulldogs' coaches, Frank or Mike Grillo, pointed out that the sanitation at that area is "absolutely disgusting" and numerous children have been stung by bees while using the port-a-johns.

The 3% Raise

Though he's missed three meetings this year, Pat Breslin claims to have spent the last five weeks speaking to 400 people, and got a lot of "ill feedback." Maybe they're using the port-a-johns. Then Breslin started talking about the national debt, the Harrisburg bankrupticy and went on the claim that even his "dear friend" Hayden Phillips had to take a pay cut. So he's opposed to any raises at all for the 17 non-union workers in the Township.

Rather than arguing that his dear friend should get a raise, Breslin wants everyone else to suffer.

If the raises were removed, the Township would save about $38,000

Over the past seven years, the salaries of nonunion workers have gone up just 2.4%, states Manager Shafer.  Roy Roth stated he has not had a raise since 1992.

Chetwin residents: What About Us?

Wayne Kresge, who has been at the spearhead of complaints about stormwaters at 15 homes along Chetwin Terrace, is incensed that the Township would build $200,000 shitters without addressing the storm water issue in his area.

He's been coming to meetings for the past 1 1/2 years, and Township employees cleaned out a swale, but he contends disaster is on the horizon.

$1.1 million for fire rescue trucks

Hudak also objected to $1.1 million to replace two fire rescue vehicles, each of which is over 20 years old. He claimed they aren't in "dire need" of replacement, though both have no state certification. "I speak from logic and facts," stated Hudak at one point. "That is all I have to say."

At least until firefighter Ron Ford said he was "disgusted" by Hudak's remarks. Hudak was offended by that, but Fire Chief Dave Stapinski got up to say that each vehicle has been carefully researched and that was based on the assurances of a committee that included two Commissioners.

Tom Nolan stated there were a lot of half truths being disseminated, and the realitiy is that the more expensive fire resuce truck was part of the approved 2014 budget. He pointed out that the Township did not spend 57% of its capital projects in 2014.

Hidak claimed that the Township has not raised taxes because of all the building, but the Township is nearly built out. "That is all I have to say," he stated for the fifteenth time.

Voting in favor of the budget were Marty Zawarski, Tom Nolan and Phil Barnard. Voting against it were Pat Breslin and Michael Hudak.


Anonymous said...

Bernie, when shit is the topic of discussion, you really excel. Good reporting.

Anonymous said...

It's all a crock of shit and they're all full of shit...

Anonymous said...

"Over the past seven years, the salaries of nonunion workers have gone up just 2.4%, states Manager Shafer."

Lets see... balancing a budget on the back of the non union employees. The very same employees that supervise the union employees who have seen consistent raises over those past 7 years. What Bernie doesn't mention is how the sick, vacation and personal time of those same management staff were stripped in 2014 to be used as a bargaining tool for the union negotiations. Stay classy Bethlehem Township, you are being run and led by a Board full of ignorants and people impressed with themselves.

Anonymous said...

Wow sounds like non union workers get the shaft everywhere. Same crap at Norco. Who says workers dont need unions! Non Union workers at Norco, we NEED A UNION!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, when shit is the topic of discussion, you really excel. Good reporting."

Why thank you. Unfortunately, I have to redo this story when it goes to the newspaper to remove any evidence of personality or truth. And they wonder why papers are dying. I believe that accounts like these are actually more accurate than the supposed (yawn!) objective pieces.

Anonymous said...

Its the same everywhere....i get tired of hearing "Non Union". Why is it that non union workers always get the shaft?? I know people always put down Unions but its seems thats the only option workers have to counter act getting screwed by their employers. Looks like county non union workers will be going without a raise for atleast the next 3 yrs while Union personell will be getting raises.

Anonymous said...

The Non Union employees are the ones who are getting screwed big time. The commissioners sit back and let the union workers rack up tons of overtime and don't blink an eye. Union workers can go out on long term "Elective" surgeries and receive 100% of pay with no incentive to return, why come to work when your getting your pay anyway, and not a thing done about that. Commissioners vote for $400,000 trucks and $200,000 bathrooms but look to cut minimal raises to non union employees. That's all I have to say about that!!!!

Anonymous said...

People didn't build big houses in the Township to get nickel and dimed by Hudak. If one of those houses burns down, was it worth it Hudak? And Breslin, you cheap fuck, $38,000 is what you are carrying on about? Give our friends and neighbors the modest raise they deserve. My god, I swear I'm moving out of the Township soon. We thought it was a place that was going to come around but it's just going backwards.

Anonymous said...

Bernie why don't you ask what the township spends annually on overtime for the union employees? I bet your going to find it way over $38,000 and the commissioners don't blink an eye about that.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

1.)Mr. Hudak seems like a grumpy old man, and Breslin doesn't know the difference between small potatoes and shine-ola. Yes,$200K for a restroom does seem a little excessive. There must be a lot of site work necessary to make it happen.
2.)The Township has ignored the needs of the public safety personnel for nearly 10 years. The time has come for the Commissioners to act responsibly.

zoid said...

It was a number of years back that this "$200,000" restroom/storage building/second floor building was brought before the township. At that time BTAA was going to foot the bill for the entire project with NO cost to the township. What happened?? BTAA was going to do the building with in kind donations and labor. I believe there were a number of issues at that time and that is why it went away. There was an issue with connecting to the sanitary sewer; issue with water; ownership of the building; insurance for the building; maintenance of the building; liability for the township, the list goes on and on.
This is a bad move and as much as Mr. Hudak does get grumpy, I agree with him on this. The building will be open when there are sporting events so to say it will be available for general public use is a bunch of crap.

This is all political despite what Mr. Nolan says and that is not what BT budget is about!!!!

Lighthouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Paul- Why didn't you approve the structure then?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Zoid, My understanding is that the Bulldogs will reimburse some of the costs for the $200,000 shitter. Also, if the problems you mention are insurmountable, it's not going to happen. This just puts the item in the budget; it does not guarantee it is going to get done. Maybe it would have been better to place it in the budget at $1, just as a placeholder.

Did you know that they have video cameras for shit? That blew my mind. What blew my mind even more is that some guy was there who has his own system.

Anonymous said...

Like what Roto-Rooter has to look for clogs? This is news to you?

Just build the kids a bathroom. Christ, facilities for our young ones are what makes the community hospitable. I have no young children, for the record. Why must we have the bare minimum of everything? That's why this country's infrastructure is going to hell.

Anonymous said...

Let them shit in the field like I did as a kid.

Anonymous said...

In Bethlehem twsp you have two competing fire companies. "The Heights" and "Nancy Run". Just look at the Nancy Run webpage under "apparatus'. They already have two pumpers equipped with rescue tools better known as "jaws". So why does the township have to buy more rescue equipment for "the Heights"? its a duplication of equipment.And when there is a parade to attend the equipment leaves the area.And how many of these high-priced toys never answer a call due to a lack of volunteers.How many of these trucks can get out on a weekday during the day? Just telling it like it is. Wake up people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That argument was advanced by Hudak and effectively rebutted by other Comm'rs as well as the firefighters in the audience. It was effectively established that the two fire companies are working together to prevent duplication. I will not go into details bc the firefighters are better able to address it than I, and they did.

Lighthouse said...

1. $38,000 out of the total budget is something like .002%. I suppose like in Congress, the Tea crowd would rather shut the place down over that. At what cost? As with any employee, after enough years of more with less--non-union, or union; private, or public sector-- it affects morale. BT has long had great employees for the most part, and some even wear multiple hats, getting two or three employees for the buck. "'Attaboy/girl" doesn't pay the bills, though.

2. The Twp is blessed to have two VFC's. The budget would explode if we had to have a full-time, salaried/benefits municipal Dept, that will no doubt come eventually. My understanding is the two have really worked hard to address the coordination/duplication perception raised several years ago. Public Safety (police/fire) are basic municipal services. I would rather they be equipped.

3. 12:04, that was raised during the election, and if you look at the address given on the public on-line campaign finance reports, it does make one wonder. What is the truth? While I shake my head driving down the road daily, I don't know what the truth is. Do you? If you can prove otherwise, I'd say do so. Otherwise, its a non-issue as it was out there during the campaign, and he was still elected so obviously the voters don't care to know either way. Too often if you tell them you won't raise taxes, the dog salivates and votes accordingly. You see that at the County level. Even wannabe politicos and kingmakers pick that up. Anyway, you get, and deserve, the government you elect. I am sure some love this crew. They were all elected, and some re-elected. If you don't like it, I would encourage you to run and get people to show up at the polls.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Given the large number of mostly Bethlehem Township tea party members attending last night's meeting, I'd say Breslin has an audience. Though I disagree with many of their views, I will say they were very respectful and they should attend more meetings. I know and actually admire some of them.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a career unionized firefighter who has a one-track mind. The two fire companies in BT do not "compete" with each other. They both provide a high caliber of services, and work as one when the alarm bell rings. The Township is not buying any other equipment for "The Heights", they are replacing a vehicle that is becoming mechanically unsound. The vehicle is designed to carry a large variety of equipment to perform rescues. No matter what Mr. Hudak has been told by the Nancy Run chief, it is impossible to outfit the existing apparatus with the additional tools and equipment.
If you want to be on your soap box about duplication of equipment, the Commissioners approved the purchase of these "Jaws" for Nancy Run years after "The Heights" purchased them. There was no consideration of the duplication of equipment when Nancy Run presented this to the Commissioners, so we know who's really concerned about duplication, and who's truly concerned about providing the residents of Bethlehem Township with the best emergency services in the most cost effective manner.
And BTW....what do parades have to do with this issue?

Anonymous said...

What is happening in BT is a shame. The place was run quite well post corruption until about the time Zawarski and his crew showed up. Now, it is going backwards with spending and priority. For some reason or another, the low information Tea Partiers are showing up and filling the Board with their ilk and we are all seeing the results of that. The people being put on staff in key positions is easily controlled and will do the will of Breslin and his minions. Word has it that Breslin is mentored by Hayden Phillips! No wonder the crushing of the BT staff. BT seems like a little laboratory experiment for the Tea Party crew to see how much can be pushed and pulled and then tried on a larger level. Watch out BT non unionized staff, the Tea Party is coming for your Health Care next just like NORCO. Your raises and other benefits are on the chopping block too just like you saw in the past year and what happened on Monday. All the Tea Party needs is just one more vote and trust me, they are working on it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Monday night eas the first time i saw any number of tea party members at the meeting, and there were nly about ten. There are two tea party members who attend regularly, and they are the nucest people you would want to meet. They are not the problem. Marty Zaworski has done some things rights and some things wrong in his first term. He is not the problem, either. The problem, eithher. That is all I haveto say.

Anonymous said...

6:28 You are sort of off base with your comments. The township is being run very well at the moment and your comments about spending are way off. What year was it that the township manager handed over $850K to the street light scammers??? Not recently! Under what manager did the BOC decide to cut salaries & benefits? Under what manager and BOC was the Community Center built under? The new manager and BOC has a tall task to clean up the many mistakes made by previous BOC members and past managers. One more thing, name one person Breslin has put into a key staff position? Your comments are wrong and you don't know what you are talking about. The new manager is actually doing a very good job, she communicates with all sides and works hard. Get your facts straight before you talk so stupid.

Anonymous said...

Since you seem so fixated on that fact that Pat Breslin missed 3 meetings, here is some info for you. The official published meeting minutes from the township website, up to and including November 3, show Pat Breslin absent 2 times, 4/21 & 9/15. Nolan was absent 6/2 and Hudak was absent 9/2, 10/6, 10/20 and left at 8:15 PM 11/3. Why not treat everyone fairly and harp upon the fact that apparently Hudak missed 3 meetings as well. Just saying.

Bernie O'Hare said...

First of all, Breslin has missed three meetings. He was absent just two weeks ago, so that makes three absences. The reason I mention it bc I find it hypocritical for him to state he spent weeks talking to hundreds of people when he was not around.

As for Hudak, I noted every one of his absences and have been very critical of his performance as Comm'r. Had he said what Breslin said, rest assured he would not be spared

That is all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

What did Breslin say. Was is tea party doctrine ?

Anonymous said...

Look at the web sites for both Nancy Run and "The Heights". Both sites list their apparatus and equipment carried. Both companies state that they each have two trucks carrying a set of jaws. That means that there is FOUR sets of jaws in Bethlehem Twsp, that is just crazy. Talk about duplication of services and a waste of taxpayer dollars.And a previous poster responds "no matter what the Nancy Run chief tells Hudak". Right there is a indication of stress between the two fire companies. As for the parade comment, how many times do these fire companies buy million-dollar trucks and then take them miles away from their coverage area to attend a parade. No matter how you spin it, you cannot put a shine on a turd.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I.belive the question of duplication was effectively addressed. That is all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

Four sets. Go out to the fire companies and look at them. They have a set that is like 20 years old as well as newer ones. I have seen the equipment and the older units should be trashed

What do you do when there are multiple accidents.

That's all I have to say about that

Anonymous said...

They don't have the manpower to respond to multiple accidents. How many units can get out during daytime on weekdays ?

Anonymous said...

Keep spending and putting the screws to your supervisory staff while your unionized staff laughs to the bank with their contracts. You guys are the epitome of good government in the Valley!

Anonymous said...

1.) The reason was to show that Mr. Hudak is, without question, biased. He believes that everything that comes out of Chief Hauze's mouth is gospel, when in fact, it's far from that. Mr. Hudak has no desire to base a decision on factual information provided by both fire companies, because that may not give him the answers he wants.
2.) You are generalizing when you state "these fire companies" have million dollar apparatus only to take to parades miles out of their response areas. Not every volunteer fire company shares this philosophy.
3.) I know it's difficult to comprehend this, when employed as a career firefighter, where everything you do or say, is either permitted or denied in your union contract.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight...a tool must be shiny and new in order to work. The tools carried by both departments are well maintained. To suggest that something be "scrapped" solely due to its age, and not its functionality, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

7:45. If you are trapped in a vehicle with a broken arm, leg, shoulder, rip whatever and the second string rescue truck comes out to the accident scene. And now they have to manually hook up hydraulic hoses to the equipment rather than just getting the tool off the truck already set up with hoses it adds time as to how long you are trapped. But according to you it's ok.

One thing I have learned in life is that you are only as good as your tools. Equipment wears out and at times doesn't operate at 100% efficiency. I don't want to be the person to tell a parent sorry but the jaws of life wasn't in the budget.

Dude- I have been rear ended 5 times in the last ten years, nothing serious enough to be extracted, I NEVER want to second guess if the EMS and fire departments are equipped properly

Unless you spent a day or two-----yes a day or two looking at and inspecting and seeing reports as to how they function, it's best that you just shut the F$@€ Up!

Anonymous said...

10:27. OOops sorry!. That was meant for 10:27

Anonymous said...

In any case of entrapment, patient stabilization is the initial priority. Unless you are an idiot, the patient needs to be protected first. You don't go cutting up a vehicle without taking the steps to insure the patient's safety. So, those few seconds you are so concerned about, don't exist.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Your the expert.

Anonymous said...

All this discussion about the two fire companies inBbethlehem twsp underscores the fact that there still is competition between the two companies.The township supervisors are clearing wasting money thru duplication. Volunteer fire companies (and some ambulance companies) are full of conflicting views.Why in the past have some Palmer township fire fighters left the palmer FD and joined Nancy Run? because of conflicts at palmer. And who is that FF who was an officer at palmer and suddenly ended up as an officer at Forks twsp. i doubt all these guys moved out of their original coverage areas. AS for the profanity, you are probably just a gung-ho junior firefighter who has not grown up yet.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are bashing the union employees, but does anyone know that some are being told to wear several hats, told to do more, more, more with no extra pay, while others abuse the system and get rewarded.