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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bethlehem Township: No Tax Hike, But Sewer Bills For Some Will Rise

Andrew Freda, BT Director of Finance
It appears likely that there will be no tax hike in Bethlehem Township next year. At their November 21 meeting, Commissioners voted unanimously to advertise a 2017 budget that will keep the same 7.09 millage rate that was imposed for this year. But Commissioners are projected to spend more money than they receive in taxes and other revenue. This will create a structural deficit, which will be made up by taking it from the general fund. That will drop from $2.5 million to $1.8 million at year's end.  

A 7.09 millage rate means that a home assessed at $100,000 will receive a $709 tax bill.

Resident Roy Roth told Commissioners that Hanover Township has been able to go nine years without a tax hike,and said one of the reasons is that Hanover refuses to include grants in their budget because they are always uncertain. Tom Nolan told Roth that the Township is now putting money aside for major capital items like fire trucks.

Though the tax rate will remain the same, some Township residents will see their sewer bills go up next year. This is because Bethlehem, which handles the Township's sewage system, gave notice in October that it was increasing its rate by 6.5%.

Though the Township is passing along this increase, Finance Director Andrew Freda took an innovative approach that will spare most residents.

Currently, ratepayers pay $52.50 per quarter, so long as they use 6,000 gallons or less. If they use more, the rate is 0.0069 per gallon.

Under the new rate structure, customers who use 6,000 gallons or less will continue paying the same $52.50 they pay now. But those who use more will see an increase of 0.00707 per gallon above the 6,000 gallons.

"We have a lot of residents in the township that use far less than 6,000 gallons," said Michael Hudak. "We wanted to make sure there was no increase on their end." Malissa Davis added that the increase only applies to usage above 6,000 gallons.

The rate increase will go into effect in the second quarter in the second quarter of the year.

Freda added that ratepayers will be able to pay their sewer bills online. No registration is required, and customers can ask for email reminders or even enroll in auto-pay or pay-by-text.  

In other business, Commissioners authorized a $109,715 payment to TandM Associates as it attempts to survey its storm water problem."That is our first  foot in the door," said Hudak. They also approved a $5,442.50 to RGC Development for a backflow preventer on athletic fields referred to as the North Forty. Kim Jenkins noted that the Bulldogs, a youth sports association, has volunteered to pay half of that bill.  


Anonymous said...

I just read in the Morning Call that the manager will be earning $137k/yr. and the finance director will be earning $155k/yr. When the heck did that happen? Where are we, Bergen County, NJ? Those are 100k jobs max. It used to be that public sector employees got weak pay but good benefits, compared to the private sector where employees got good pay but weaker benefits. Now the public employees have both the good pay and good benefits compared to the private sector worker that is getting little in the way of raises and is seeing their benefits get whittled away.

Anonymous said...

And department heads continue to spend tax payer dollars on staff lunches and somehow justify it and administration allows it to continue???

Anonymous said...

Looking over the budget, it looks like the morning call is wrong about the township managers salary. That 135K is for the entire department + overtime. Bad reporting. I can imagine the fire they are going to have to put out this AM.

Anonymous said...

If you want qualified individuals running your municipality you need to pay them a competitive salary. Don't pay and you end up with the likes of John Brown.

Anonymous said...

The Township is setting itself up for one big tax increase instead of a couple small ones.

Continuing to balance the budget by drawing down reserves is going to put the Township in the same position the County found itself where they had to pass a tax increase to simply refill the reserves.

Can't deficit spend forever.

Anonymous said...

So much for a fiscally conservative Republican majority board of commissioners!

A recent college graduate would be better to run the Twp, no baggage and would work for $60k.

Anonymous said...

Technically, the board is 3-2 Democrat controlled. (Breslin & Nolan are Republicans, rest are democrats).

Bernie O'Hare said...

" just read in the Morning Call that the manager will be earning $137k/yr. and the finance director will be earning $155k/yr."

That was an error in The Morning Call and has been corrected.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, Freda did suggest a small hike, but there is no way that happens after the last hike, in which two Comm'rs lost their seats.