It was standing room only as residents came to the Board of Supervisors meeting for Upper Nazareth Township on Nov. 20. Handing out buttons and waving signs, the community expressed concerns over funding being cut to the Memorial Library in Nazareth.
Lisa Klem, the Upper Nazareth Township manager, provided background detail to the audience about what they have cut to combat the town’s deficit.
“We still have a $50,000 donation in the budget for the Memorial Library,” Klem said. “My salary will not increase, that’s a cut of $2,640.” Klem also stated other budget cuts including $16,000 of permitting software, $45,000 of part-time patrolman salaries, $35,000 for a police vehicle and the town will not participate in Pibbles Paws, a savings of $6,400. Next year’s budget is expected to run a deficit of $135,000.
When public comments were allowed, library Director Holly Bennett was first to speak to the Board of Supervisors.
“I want to thank this committee for their support this evening,” Bennett said. “But I also want to make a comment that I participated in the budget meetings and with all due respect Mr. Rinker, when we talked about this your response to me was everything you do at the library I can do on Google. So I would like to hear other voices tonight, not because I am the director but because this library is so important to this community. From children reading books, to seniors getting their taxes prepared. It’s not just about getting on your computer and using Google. Some of the people that use our library don’t even have access to Google and they count on us to provide it to them so they can get a job, so they can go forward and make their life better.”
Residents then took turns discussing personal stories about the library, services that it has offered to help them in a time of need and how the library helps everyone, especially the low-income community members. One resident praised the library saying, “I came to this town six years ago and one of the main reasons I came was because you have a great library here.”
Another resident stated, “It’s not just Upper Nazareth Township being impacted by the budget cuts we made, it’s also the neighboring communities and our library was just awarded a Gold Star by the state because of what it does, we shouldn’t be cutting their budget.”
Terri Sayago, the library board vice president, addressed the Board of Supervisors stating that out of the four supporting townships, Upper Nazareth Township was the only one cutting their library budget.
After public comment about the library ended, the supervisors voted 3 to 1 approval to pay for an advertisement for the Open Space tax that was approved by voters on Election Day. They also approved an exoneration of $36.43 in taxes from a home that has been razed.
The next Upper Nazareth Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Township Building.