The Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, September 26 at 6 p.m. to continue their budget discussion.
The meeting began with Township Manager Alice Rehrig reviewing her notes on the budget from the previous meeting for chairman Michael Jones, as he had been absent, before going on to talk about other changes and additions which have been made. She hopes to have updated numbers for the insurance figures by the next meeting. There was a slight increase to revenue from real estate from the previous year, but tax collections came in at just 92% which is a drop from the last few years; she admitted to being unsure why that was the case.
It was pointed out that the fire tax details must be arranged by the beginning of December at the absolute latest. Following a lengthy discussion on the subject, during which it was asked why there has been so little information made public, the board explained they have been waiting to share the details until they are complete. Rehrig and Fire Commissioner Richard Hildebrand will compare calendars and find a suitable date for the board members to sit down with members of the fire company. They will need to finetune specifics such as what residents will pay and how the money may be used. Once all the details are confirmed, the tax will be advertised to the public at large. Hildebrand believes their goals can be accomplished fairly quickly.
Continuing to review the budget, Rehrig mentioned that she has edited numbers to include requests which Police Chief Scott Fogel made at the previous meeting. There was also a brief conversation about the public works summer help; Frank Zamadics has informed the board that this year’s summer workers were the best he has ever had and he hopes to bring them back next year. Among other things, they were so careful with the use of township equipment that the cost of mower repairs is down significantly from last year. The recreation board is continuing to save money for roofing projects at the parks, and will be completing the recreation plan in order to apply for grants. Rehrig was also able to put extra money into the contingency fund for unexpected expenses.
Jones noted that a resident of Brighton Circle has been calling him in regards to a misspelled street sign. The budget for signs has been increased to $10,000, so hopefully that can be rectified soon. The expected income from the state for 2024 should be equal to or possibly slightly more than what was received in 2023. Operating expenses are being met without difficulty, though Rehrig warned the board that the township does need to be careful with regard to capital costs. In response to an audience inquiry, it was explained that the building fund, contingency fund and equipment fund are all kept in separate capital funds earmarked for specific purposes, rather than being part of the general budget. The budget discussion was then tabled until the next meeting.
Elizabeth Amato of the zoning board presented their August report, stating that 24 new permits had been received; 31 permits, including some which carried over from July, had been issued. The medical marijuana dispensary was denied as previously reported. Board member David Hess informed Amato that the property on Wood Drive, which had been an ongoing issue for the zoning board, has been sold at sheriff’s sale and the tenant should be moving out very soon, so they are unlikely to have any further difficulties with the individual.
The board approved a payment request from Bracy Construction for their work on the maintenance building. All of the work has been inspected and approved. An ordinance amendment concerning cluster developments, allowing higher density population in certain residential areas, was reviewed by both the township planning commission and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and was advertised accordingly; the board voted to adopt it. They also voted to adopt a change to the ordinance concerning wholesale and wholesale trades, to clean up the language and make it consistent.
Rehrig presented the board with the annual pension numbers – $267,754 for uniformed (police) employees and $48,064 for non-uniformed. Hess informed everyone that he was contacted by a construction manager for BVCI, which is performing work on the turnpike, with a donation of telephone poles for Lehigh Township. These poles include LED lights and can be used at the township parks; they are being given at no charge, with the only cost being that of sending public works crew members to collect the donation. The board accepted the offer.
Rehrig presented the board with two resolutions for adoption, which would be necessary for her to continue applying for grants from the gaming commissions of Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe counties. The grants, if given, will pay for updating township office computers and the computers in the police station and cars. These were approved unanimously, as was the annual plan to provide holiday turkeys as appreciation gifts to township employees and subcommittee board members. Rehrig has bids out for the township’s fuel island and has received inquiries from three companies thus far; she expects to have actual bid numbers by the next meeting.
On a final note, the fire company is once again selling tickets for their annual sportsman’s raffle. The 2024 raffle includes $50,000 worth of prizes, and tickets can be purchased from any fire company member. Tickets are $20 each or three for $50. The drawing will take place on March 23 of next year; doors to the fire hall will open at 3:30 p.m. and the event will run until the final drawing at 10 p.m. With public comments concluded, the board members went into an executive session to discuss personnel matters.
The next meeting of the Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Tuesday, October 10 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, located at 1069 Municipal Rd., Walnutport.