The June 23 meeting of the Lehigh Township supervisors was once again held via teleconference because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As Northampton County prepares to enter the green phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s virus mitigation plan, this may soon change. Although the supervisors have been roundly critical of some of Wolf’s mandates, the option for the public to call into the meeting will still be available even after they open the room for in-person attendance by the press and public. A township resident, Paul Nikisher, said that he thought it was time to open up the meetings and suggested even moving them to a larger, or outdoor, venue. Chairperson Cindy Miller said that as they enter the green phase, opening up would be possible.
“We are going green. We can do 50 percent capacity and probably do face-to-face meetings,” she said.
No solid details were hammered out, but in the least restrictive phase that Northampton County entered on June 26, social distancing measures are still a requirement and there are restrictions in place. As noted by Miller, they will only be able to accommodate 50 percent capacity in the meeting space. Also, according to the state website, masks will be required.
At the last meeting, progress on looking at potential 20 percent budget cuts to all of the departments was discussed. The township could be looking at a shortfall because of lost earned income tax revenue caused by pandemic-related layoffs and unemployment.
“I don’t think it will be 20 percent, but I’m thinking maybe 10 to 15 percent,” Miller said.
The real economic impact of the lost revenue won’t be known until the supplemental Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, which pays out an extra $600 a month to qualified applicants, runs out and people start to get back to work.
After approving bills and minutes, with only Supervisor Keith Hantz absent, the board discussed the plan for the township maintenance building that is exceeding the price tag originally approved by the supervisors. After some discussion, a shorter building, that still keeps its wings for office and other space, was decided to be the best plan to get back under budget. Public Works Director Frank Zamadics prefers the shorter building to losing the wings. A motion was made to plan for a 100 foot by 140 foot building and passed unanimously.
Miller also noted that she received an e-mail about fireworks in the township. She would like to remind residents that a permit is required for any big fireworks display or one that lasts for a long duration.
“Try to be more cognizant of your neighbors. It is annoying to do it every weekend. If you get caught, you will be cited,” Miller said.
The next Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be July 14. For more information about calling in to the meeting, please visit the township’s website at lehightownship.com.