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Hellertown urged to seek gaming authority revenue for borough projects

By Lou Gombocz, Jr., WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 05 2013 11:56:50 AM CST
HELLERTOWN, Pa. -

Hellertown Borough Council Monday evening was strongly encouraged by its representative from the Northampton County Gaming Revenue Authority (NCGRA) to "start the process and show the impact" the Sands Casino is having upon the municipality and secure its share of the authority's funds from the casino to pay for borough projects.

Hellertown business owner, resident and NCGRA rep David Heintzelman advised Council to take a "long-term look at the borough's future needs and begin the planning process now."

In addition, Heintzelman noted how Hellertown's police department needs office space, having outgrown its present first floor borough hall location and how money from the NCGRA could possibly be used for some type of expansion.

Councilwoman Gail Nolf remarked, "Hellertown needs to be aggressive on this and ask the authority for the money to do things."

Nolf urged "Let's get the ball rolling and utilize the resources that are available to us and act upon it."

Currently five contiguous Northampton County municipalities--Hellertown, Lower Saucon, Freemansburg, Bethlehem and Hanover townships are eligible to apply for and receive a portion of approximately $200,000 annually to pay for needs such as additional police officers, patrol cars and emergency vehicles.

However, how the casino affects or "impacts" a municipality has to be proven, said Borough Manager Cathy Hartranft.

Two of Hellertown's current police officers' salaries are paid with NCGRA funds, said Hartranft, and these additional patrolmen have helped keep crime levels in the borough at a level comparable to a time prior to the Sands' opening.

The first application deadline for next year's NCGRA grants is March 3. 2014, with awards administered in mid-May.

In other business, Council approved the appointment of Michael Maguire of Hellertown as assistant fire chief in the borough for a period of three years.

Council also accepted the resignation of Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Scherer.

Council agreed to temporarily replace Scherer with Council Vice President John Bate who is the head of Dewey Ambulance until a permanent replacement is found.