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Bethlehem Township's holiday gift to residents: a budget with no tax increases

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Dec 17 2012 09:31:12 PM CST
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

The Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners presented township residents with a holiday season present when they approved the 2013 budget during Monday night’s meeting that keeps a 5.99 millage rate with no increase in taxes and no additional debt service. The vote was 4-1 and was passed with no resident comment during a public hearing or discussion by commissioners.

In other business, the board also dealt with a previously tabled issue involving a 2.5 percent proposed rate hike from Pidcock Company, who perform engineering services for the township. The issue had been tabled at the December 3rd meeting when Commissioner D. Martin Zawarski objected to the hike, noting the inappropriateness of a rate increase given the continued economic malaise.

During Monday night’s meeting Commissioner Thomas Nolan described Pidcock’s request this way.
“I believe these rates are acceptable,” Nolan said, adding that the rates were competitive with what other municipalities pay for the same services and that firm had done a creditable job during their tenure with the township. A few moments later, the board concurred with his sentiment, passing the measure 5-0.

Under old business, township Manager Howard Kutzler noted a third consecutive time extension through the end of January involving approval of the Freemansburg Square Land Development proposal, because of issues involving the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The project is the vision of Dr. Atul Amin who would develop a commercial park highlighted by a 10-story hotel on Freemansburg Avenue at Emrick Boulevard, nearby to Route 33. Should the project gain approval, Amin’s first goal is to secure a hotel franchise agreement for the structure that will be the project’s anchor that includes a 10-story parking garage, three six-story retail buildings, two five-story office buildings and a three-storey bank and office building on just under nine acres of land.