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  • Saucon Voice

Lower Saucon Council Approves Budget, Property Tax Cut, Multiple Development Items

The Lower Saucon Township Council held its December 6, 2023, meeting at the Se-Wy-Co Fire Hall. The meeting had several higher profile items to be considered, including adoption of the 2024 Township budget along with fixing Township tax rates to support the budget. There were also several developer items considered by Council.

LST-approved-budget

In a 4-1 vote (deLeon, no), Steel Club received approval for both its Phase II and Phase III development plans. Council President Jason Banonis commented, “Steel Club has a prominence and significance to the Township.” He went on to outline the potential financial benefits to the Township, stating, “with the added property value [of this development] that will be an added property value of $100 to $125 million dollars.” Banonis equated that potential tax revenue to the County, Township, and Saucon Valley School District of “$3 to $3.75 million dollars”.


Additionally related to development items, the Bethlehem Landfill received approval for its Phase V preliminary land development plan in a 3-2 vote (deLeon and Yerger, no) to some boos from those in attendance. In fact, chatter after the vote prompted Councilmember Mark Inglis to state, “You know what? I want to add a comment to that. I’ve heard a lot of comments about the election and what just transpired. Do you guys realize that over 60% didn’t vote? Which means that 60% of the people here don’t care.” He concluded his remarks by stating, “you can’t argue with the numbers”. In an August 30, 2023, Township meeting, Council estimated that Phase V expansion “would provide $70 to $80 million to the Township over the [next] 18 years” (pp.24). This equates to approximately $4 million per year, or close to 40% of the Township annual budget.


In other Township business, Lower Saucon Fire Rescue (LSFR) received Council approval to purchase a 2028 Pierce Enforcer Pumper Tanker. Also related to fire services, LSFR received Council approval and appropriation of approximately $5,000 for the replacement of fire apparatus tires.


Finally at the meeting last evening, Council approved a balanced budget with no cuts to any Township services. Most significantly, the approved budget for 2024 includes a 0.75 mill reduction to the Township Real Estate Tax, bringing the tax rate down to 3.64 mills. This represents the third tax cut in the past four years.


The approved budget (approved 4-1, deLeon no) will bring line item 01-301-100 down from $1,945,000 to $1,608,300. To keep the budget balanced, line item 01-392-012 (Transfer from Fund Balance) was raised from $1,500,000 to $1,836,700, keeping the final budget amount the same at $10,882,478, according to Council.


Council explained that the tax decrease reflects the sound fiscal management of the Township’s finances. Council also expressed concern with the current economic and inflationary conditions placing significant strains on the local. Councilmember Sandra Yerger added, “I know many people are dealing with inflation issues and this could help out.”


Regardless of the solid financial footing the Township enjoys, along with an almost $10 million held in reserve funds, Councilmember Priscilla deLeon stated that she intends to open and amend the budget when she, Victoria Ophtof-Cordaro, and Laura Ray are sworn in on January 2, 2024. Lower Saucon Township Council will meet again on December 20th beginning at 6:30PM at Lower Saucon Town Hall.


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