Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Bethlehem Tp To Advertise Nine Percent Tax Hike

Finance Director Andrew  Freda
At their Nov 18 meeting, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted unanimously to advertise a budget for next year that imposes a nine per cent tax hike. This decision follows three budget hearings. The proposed spending plan can be reviewed on the township website and can be physically inspected at the municipal building for the next 30 days. A final vote is planned for December 17.

For the first time, the Township is considering a fire tax set at 0.15 mills. Under state law, money collected through a fire tax must be set aside in a separate account and may be used only for the township's two volunteer fire departments.

At the current real estate tax of 7.09 mills, the annual tax bill is $647 for the average taxpayer. With an increase in millage to 7.74 mills, taxes will increase to $705 for the average homeowner.

In addition to real estate taxes, the Township imposes an earned income tax (0.5%). The annual earned income tax payment per household will be $415.

Why a tax hike? Manager Doug Bruce's detailed budget message cites several reasons. Under negotiated union contracts, wages have increased between two and three per cent. Health insurance costs have risen 8.7%. Debt service next year on four loans over the past nine years will be over $2 million. The cost of the pension fund has increased. Workers compensation insurance has skyrocketed 27%. Bruce describes the Township a "mature, nearly built-out municipality where annual revenues have not quite been keeping up with annual expenses for the better part of a decade."

Resident Bill Spanogle complained, "You want to raise my taxes, and my fixed income neighbors are not very happy about that." He wanted to know where the extra money is going, and complained there should be an executive summary explaining the need in half a page. He also argued a tax hike should be voted on by the public.

In other business, Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a $15 rate hike for nonresidents at the community center. They alsoagreed to advertise an intermunicipal cooperation agreement with Hanover Tp and Bethlehem City to provide sewer service for a development proposed along township Line Road. They voted to approve a settlement agreement with Birchwood commons that will permit the development of an old trailer park along Freemansburg Avenue. They also voted unanimously to elect Malissa Davis as Vice president of the Board.

The five Commissioners now are President Mike Hudak, Vice President Malissa Davis, and Commissioners Kristine Blake, John Gallagher and John Merhotten.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spend - Spend - Spend... Management doesn't have the balls to call out the wasteful spenders in the Township! Time for a change, some young blood, eliminate all assistant managers in all departments. Cut spending before raising taxes!

Anonymous said...

The manager figured it out really quickly that an assistant manager wasn't needed. Funny thing was he was the assistant before becoming manager. I guess he realized he was useless in his previous position. And the commissioners then hired him as manhager. Now that's funny. Look at the wages for the top ten individuals on the township payroll and your head would spin. These guys are making bank! Y

Anonymous said...

I understand health care costs have gone up, however, why isn't the Township requiring employees to contribute a higher amount to their health cost coverage like the private sector does. Self-employed individuals pay about 1200-1500 per month and a family plan is about 2700.00 per month depending on the ages of of the family members. Government has to realize that the good paying jobs no longer exist in the Lehigh Valley and that the taxpayer can no longer foot the bill for some of these perks. One day many municipalities and school districts will collapse under this mentality.

Anonymous said...

politicians are assholesw

Anonymous said...

Wow, that township must have the highest taxes around, what the hell are they doing with the money.

Anonymous said...

Here is all millage rates:

https://www.ncpub.org/_web/forms/pdffiles/Millage_rates_as_of_Jul_02_18.pdf

Anonymous said...

Time to get out of the fitness business and sell off the community center, outsource the grass cutting to local landscapers and shoot all the lawyers... and engineers while you're at it...

Anonymous said...

@6:27,
The real estate tax in BT is lower than about half of the county, and about one third of what it is in the city of Easton. Most of the slate belt communities are at least 50% higher than BT.

Anonymous said...

@12:54,
Most of the Township's employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and healthcare costs are part of the agreement. You cannot change their contribution at will, you must do it in the contract renewal process.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the most recent agenda and bill agenda, it's clear that they have a spending problem and with all the rental mats and cleaning supplies, tge cleanest municipal government in the Lehigh Valley!

Anonymous said...

Some townships in lehigh county have real estate taxes under 1 mill. So dont try to say they are reasonable , they are outrageous and so are those other townships you are comparing them to.

Anonymous said...

@12:54,
Self employed individuals pay higher rates for health insurance. It is because they are not in group coverage (which is a scam). Rates are also dependent on the plans chosen. To accurately compare, the plans must be alike.

Anonymous said...

@8:58,
Lehigh County went through a reassessment a few years ago. Millage rates were adjusted accordingly.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nobody likes a tax hike. The reality is that BT should have adopted a fire tax several years ago, which would eventually eliminate its need to borrow all the time. it has remedied that error. The increases in employee compensation are completely reasonable. The notion that benefits be reduced is ridiculous. The question should be why private sector employers do not offer better benefit packages. We did do away with slavery. The Tp has to repay debt. It did not end the gaming grants. The state did t hat so that the GOP controlled house can hand out $ to their pals. You don't see Marcia Hahn lifting a finger for the township, but the same idiots who complain about the spending here voted for her.

Anonymous said...

Public works does not need an assistant director nor does the ppis/sewer department. Do township staff members deserve free lunches on a regular basis. Someone needs to get a right to know request and see how much is spent on lunches. Was a recently retired police detective hired on a part time job as evidence manager? Recently provided an office and all that goes with it? Necessary? Payback?

Anonymous said...

Www.judgemurray.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I’ve never seen a place with worse stormwater management.

Anonymous said...

@11:11,
Now for the rest of the story. The retired detective was not replaced. Therefore, the net cost is actually less.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
While I agree that the fire tax is long overdue, the proposed amount will do little to solve the problem. Based on today's prices, the amount projected will take 4-5 years to raise the amount needed to purchase a fire engine, or about 10 years to purchase an aerial piece. That means after enough funding is raised for an engine, it will be 10 additional years to raise enough for an aerial. The fire tax should be at least 0.5 mill to be an effective funding source.

Anonymous said...

Fire Marshall/EMC Vehicle Graphics - $1,535.00
Ladies V-neck performance shirts - $101.50
Staff Shirts w/Embroidery - $388.00
3 desks & returns - Police Department - $1,710.84
1 deks (sic) & return - Finance - $700.66
Executive Chair w/Fabric Seat & Back - $283.20

SPEND - SPEND - SPEND


Anonymous said...

858, Lehigh County is based on 100% assessment and at least one municipality rides the PA taxpayer for free PSP protection.

202. Small price to pay for a volunteer department.

Anonymous said...

Is this why Melissa Shafer bailed for St. Luke's back in February?

Anonymous said...

@12:02
Not going to comment on the vehicle, but do you have any idea what office furniture or clothing cost? A chair for $283 is a bargain, a good quality office desk chair is about $500-$600. It's not the cheap crap you buy at Walmart. What is the quantity of the clothing items? Go out and buy $400 worth of shirts. Bet you get about 10 for that money.

Anonymous said...

@1:30PM,
Shafer bailed because she was in over her head from day 1.

Anonymous said...

T&M Associates are fixing the twp storm water issues for $8k+ a month and then some yet no visible improvement or solution? Money not well spent.

Anonymous said...

People in government, and the school districts get a euphoria rush by spending other peoples money. They never attempt to be efficient, to renegotiate contracts, to reevaluate what they need compared to what they want. They never cut costs in any way, they are the worst managers in the world because they are not managers at all, just write the checks and raise taxes.

Anonymous said...

Before raising taxes discussion, was there any discussion regarding the sale of the community center? Looking at the monthly bills agenda, a lot of money going towards the center and if needed, should come from revenues generated by the membership and or paid programs, not taxpayers!

Anonymous said...

Is there a plan in place to avoid future tax increases? Have department heads been asked to reduce their budgets or simply business as usual?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The whole point of the fire tax, which I agree is too low, is to avoid tax hikes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would ask this question of the anonymous commenters. How many of you attended even one of the budget hearings? How many of you read the budget message. It is obvious the complainer at last night’s meeting did neither. Your brilliant ideas get no consideration if you fail to inform yourself.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
I may be mistaken, but I think the fire tax was included in the 0.5 mill increase, not in addition to it.

Anonymous said...

Spend - Spend - Spend... Management doesn't have the balls to call out the wasteful spenders in the Township! Time for a change, some young blood, eliminate all assistant managers in all departments. Cut spending before raising taxes!

Waaaah! Move out of the township if you want it to be an austerity shithole. The article clear lays out where the added revenue is going. The average increase is fifty bucks. Enough with the whining.

Anonymous said...

Fire Marshall/EMC Vehicle Graphics - $1,535.00
Ladies V-neck performance shirts - $101.50
Staff Shirts w/Embroidery - $388.00
3 desks & returns - Police Department - $1,710.84
1 deks (sic) & return - Finance - $700.66
Executive Chair w/Fabric Seat & Back - $283.20

SPEND - SPEND - SPEND


God forbid people get DESKS! The humanity! Go away, troll.

Anonymous said...

Is this why Melissa Shafer bailed for St. Luke's back in February?

Probably because she's sick of Elmer from Butztown harassing her about desk purchases and a staff lunch meeting.

You idiots whine about every little thing, you want to cut benefits and pay, and then you wonder why people leave? It must be exhausting.