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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, July 08, 2016

NorCo Council Defeats Rate Hikes For Weights and Measures

John Keppel, NorCo Dep't Weights
and Measures
By a narrow 5-4 margin, Northampton County Council voted on July 8 to defeat a rate hike sought by Weights and measures,the department that makes sure you're really getting a gallon of gas and that a pound of balogna is not just baloney. Northampton is one of just 13 counties with its own Weights and Measures Department. Everywhere else, including Lehigh county, that functions is now performed by the state Department of Agriculture. Three members of Council - Hayden Phillips, Seth Vaughn and John Cusick - made clear that they would like to abolish the department.

"I do not think we need this service, this cost, this additional government in Northampton County," said Hayden Phillips, arguing instead for "less governmental oversight."

Statewide, there are only 37 inspectors. Northampton County's Sealer, John Keppel, told Council in June that the state simply lacks the manpower "to do the in-depth testing that we do. Once you're two blocks off Main Street, for the most part, they don't know you exist."

Keppel went on to say that the state is so strapped for manpower that it actually certifies sellers and installers of scales, pumps and timing devices in use in many stores.
"That's like me coming into your store and saying, 'This scale or timing device is not any good. I'll sell you a new one.' It's like having the fox in the henhouse."
But that obvious conflict of interest makes no difference to Council President John Cusick. Noting that this is no longer a  "mandatory county function," he "just can't square the fact that this is something that we do that 3/4 of the other counties don't."

Executive John Brown previously told Council that this is a "matter of consumer protection." Ken Kraft drove that point home in a withering criticism of the trio who wants to pass off this department to the state in the name of  less government.

"You want the state to protect our citizens from being ripped off when they buy a gallon of gas or they weigh something on a scale that could be tipped the other way and you're going to put your faith in the state when they can't even pass a budget for 15 months and they can't do anything like fix their own bridges and their own roads. That's a foolish road to go down."

Agreeing with Kraft, Peg Ferraro doubts that the state would hire more inspectors for Northampton County.

Mat Benol noted that in New Jersey, everyone was buying gas at a station whose prices were lower than everywhere else until the state determined that customers were getting short-changed. He said this department plays a valuable role "for the citizens." He added, ""I have no faith in the state to handle the business of NC."

Glenn Geissinger agreed that the department is "valuable" and "pays for itself," but opposes fee increases. Matt Dietz echoed Geissinger's argument.

With Geissinger and Dietz opposed to the increase, and the Cusick-Phillips-Vaughn trio opposed to the department itself, there were five votes against the rate increase when Council voted.

Beaten but unbowed, Ken Kraft made a promise. "As long as I'm here, there will be a Department of Weights and Measures."

In other business, Council introduced an Ordinance calling for a $5 hike on vehicle registrations every year, a measure that Cusick advocated in June as a source of revenue for bridge and possible road repairs. He named himself and Bob Werner as co-sponsors.

There was no discussion of the ordinance. But Pen Argyl's Jeff Fox urged Council to vote it down when it votes on this matter in two weeks.

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should," he said. "These hurt the poorest the hardest. Many of the biggest users have vehicles not registered in the county. You can call it a fee or whatever you will. It is indeed another tax. If you call yourself a fiscal conservative or care about the less advantaged within our county, vote it down."


Anonymous said...

So on one had these clowns hike taxes by double digits. Now they want to impose a fee on car owners in the county for their ambiguous "road work". Yet when it comes to protecting the integrity of consumers in the county they say no way. They are in the pockets of the chamber of commerce and business.

They don't know what they are doing without their masters telling them. What a bunch of whacko's.

So this is the "conservative" government the voters wanted? I guess dumb is part of the package

Anonymous said...

funny tea party folks. government has been engaged in certain activities (warfare, roads, weights and measures) since at least the romans. "less government oversight" my ass. guess the romans were libtards...

Anonymous said...

Vote these screwballs out next time!!!!!!! Hacks!!!!!!

EMest said...

5.00 does not seem to be a lot of money for a years worth of driving. My problem with it is that we all know it won't go to the roads and bridges. And Bernie, just o you know, ALL truckers , licensed here or not, all have to report their mileage in each state quarterly. That results in their paying hundreds or thousands depending on their mileage only offset by the amount of fuel they purchase in each state..And by the way, truckers license plates in PA went up 300.00 this year alone! Talk about hitting the little quy! Did that 1800.00 (approx) that we spent for a license plate this year go to roads and bridges?????

Anonymous said...

Cusick has always had a bug up his ass about Weights & Measures. No amount of reasoning will change his fossilized mind. And then he proposes a stupid and unfair fee on Norco citizens. How did this pompous boob ever be elected council president?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Pompous is a good word to describe him

Anonymous said...

Idiots on Council.

Anonymous said...

Ah, some of the County geniuses are at it again. Deny an increase in fees that should ensure continuing a local agency that protects us as consumers. If the fee increase is assessed on groceries stores, gasoline stations, etc., would they pass it on to consumers in their prices? Maybe. If the geniuses abolish the county agency and say let the state do it, will the state add staff to handle Northampton County? Unlikely. If someone does convince the state to expand its staff, would Harrisburg pass along that cost to taxpayers? Likely.
So in the end, we're going to pay anyway if we'd like to know we're really getting a pound of bologna at the deli counter. Much rather have it locally controlled than another pound of -------- from Harrisburg.