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  • Matthew French

Lower Saucon's Library Offer is a Fair One

This opinion piece was submitted by a resident of Lower Saucon Township.


Fair-minded individuals will find it hard to argue against Lower Saucon Township’s (LST) offer to Hellertown Borough (HB) and the Hellertown Area Library (HAL).

Library Services

  • Lower Saucon Township (LST) will provide two years of funding (2024, 2025) to HAL in the amount of $125,000 per year.

  • Board representation on the HAL Board shall be proportional to the amount of funding provided.

  • HB will provide to LST an estimate of their funding commitment to HAL over next 5 years.

  • HB and HAL will commit to exploring regionalization or other partnerships.

Based on these figures, the $125,000 of LST funding would combine with approximately $60,000 of HB funding (based on a 2022 HB contribution of $59,174). It is indeed true that the deal would result in more HAL board representation from LST residents than HB residents, but given the funding structure, who could argue against that?

Requesting an estimate of funding levels for the next five years is also prudent since Hellertown is in debt to the tune of nearly $2 million. Lower Saucon Township has a responsibility to understand if their share of the financial burden toward HAL could unexpectedly rise. Any partner, shareholder, or creditor would expect at least that from a partner demonstrating financial uncertainty.

Further, who could object to at least exploring other service options? As a library users and taxpayers, it’s hard to find merit in closing the door to seeking more for less under alternate arrangements. Ultimately better alternatives may not exist, but it should be explored.

Compost Center

  • LST will purchase the Compost Center property for its current assessed value.

  • LST will provide services to HB residents for ten years at a cost equal to what HB is charging LST residents to use the Center.

The compost center is an interesting case to begin with, as the physical property is located within LST but is owned and operated by Hellertown Borough. The main point here is that based on available budget figures, the Compost Center doesn’t seem to make anyone any money. Historically both Lower Saucon Township (view budget) and Hellertown Borough (view budget) have contributed equal amounts to it.

Offering to purchase something at the current assessed value is a fair approach. Offering to commit to providing services at the current rate for ten years (with the ability to negotiate another deal) also seems fair. Hellertown would lose that ‘asset’ (the Compost Center), but is it an asset or a liability? And is it worth more in a lump-sum payment to be used on other necessary services for Borough residents?

Hellertown Pool

  • LST residents will have access to the pool at the same resident rates as HB residents.

  • LST will make two capital contributions of $25,000 in 2024 and 2025.

Historically, Township residents paid the same rate as Borough residents anyway. On the ‘backend’, the Township would reimburse the Borough the difference in the resident rate and non-resident rate. In 2022, that amount was $10,665 (view budget). Two payments of $25,000 over two years would equal almost $30,000 more to the Borough than what they would otherwise receive in the current arrangement. Again, this can be renegotiated for 2026 and beyond if both municipalities agree.

On its surface, this offer at a minimum deserves serious consideration by Hellertown Borough and HAL. It could be a win/win for both municipalities, and at least represents the expression of an offer. Coupled with the fact that the Township has agreed to drop all pending litigation (aside from their litigation against the State, which HAL would be dropped from), only the most entrenched of partisans could view this as anything other than a fair, good faith offer.

Publication of this opinion piece should not be construed as an endorsement by Saucon Voice of the views expressed. We encourage all readers to consider multiple sources and perspectives when forming their own opinions. Anyone is welcomed to submit content for publication. Visit our Contact page to submit something.


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