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Salisbury Township Commissioners upset with Lehigh County Comissioners decision to hold up distribution of grant funds

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 10 2013 09:51:01 PM CST
SALISBURY TWP., Pa. -

It’s safe to assume not every Salisbury Township  Board of Commissioners’ meeting features a history lesson dating back to ancient Greece.

But Thursday night’s meeting did. During a workshop session discussing the Lehigh County Commissioners' lack of action the night before on Green Future Fund grants, township Manager Randy Soriano selected the following phrase to describe their motivations this way.

“It’s a Trojan Horse,” he said of the conservative Republican block of commissioners who in his estimation, are playing political football with the grants akin the subterfuge the Greeks employed to enter the city of Troy.

On Wednesday night Lehigh County commissioners once again decided not to release more than $1 million in Green Future Fund grants to six municipalities in the county, including Salisbury Township. They have pledged to revisit the issue at their January 23rd meeting.

“It’s become a political issue, which is utterly ridiculous,” added Commissioner Debra Brinton. “Money that was promised to Salisbury Township through grants is being held up.”

The total amount, about $160,000 according to Brinton, is not exactly chump change, although the money is only part of her frustration.

“Your duty is to do what is best for the people,” she said and added that in her estimation, on the local level commissioners should leave out the grandstanding associated with the fringe elements of political ideologies of either the Democratic or Republican parties and represent the best interests of all their constituents.

As the conversation continued for another few minutes, Brinton asked Soriano point-blank did he think the commissioners would eventually decide to fund the grants or not. He replied that eventually in his estimation, yes, they would.

In other topics discussed during Thursday night’s workshop session, Soriano discussed the board’s interest in supporting the development of a policy that would govern the use of off-duty police officers whose protection was requested by various Salisbury Township businesses, including the South Mall.

During 2012 police officers logged a total of 98 hours during their off-duty time patrolling businesses at their request, according to Soriano. Now the township manager wants a policy established to officially recognize the practice. The officers’ hours on that patrol would be treated as overtime and the township would compensate them for their work, and then recoup the total costs, including pension contributions, from the business who requested them.

Commissioners agreed and the topic will be reviewed with a labor attorney to draw up the appropriate legislation.

During the regularly scheduled board meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a handful of mostly legal language amendments to the police pension plan. On December 14th commissioners and the police officers union agreed to a four-year pact that runs through December 31st, 2016.