|Chief Scott Fogel|
Judge Hawke told Council that these municipalities are all in his magisterial district, and that the processing center was built by Lehigh Tp's road crew. He stated that the criminal cases in his district would pay for the cost of the processing center. He questioned why NorCo is paying the processing fee in Bethlehem, but not in Lehigh Township. "I hope this matter can be corrected," said Hawke. He said the processing center will be shut down in the next few days if $22,000 remains unpaid.
Executive John Brown agreed that officers who can use a local booking center can cover that cost themselves. He noted that the County only agreed to pay for the booking center for 2 1/2 years, and after that, it is the responsibility of the local municipalities. He called it a nominal fee if shared by the six municipalities. He paid for the Bethlehem processing center because the 911 centers are merging.
The $300 fee charged does not come back to the booking center.It is not a profit center," he said. Brown said there is a cost advantage to the municipalities to keep the processing center and pay for it themselves instead of paying overtime.
"This is not the first conversation we had with Lehigh Township, Chief Fogel," said Brown.
Peg Ferraro was concerned. "We're passing this down to the municipality," she said. "Why isn't NorCo responsible for all the booking facilities?" ... I think we should make things a little more convenient for the townships."
But Brown disagreed. "It's a local responsibility," he said. He said it is in their interest to pay this minor fee and avoid the overtime. "They're looking for the county to pay it, and we informed them, numerous times."