top of page
  • Saucon Voice

Lower Saucon's New Majority Wastes No Time Raising Taxes - and it Appears to be Illegal

Lower Saucon Township Council met on February 7, 2024, for what may be one of Council’s longest meetings ever, debating Township business for more than 8 hours.

 

lower-saucon-raises-taxes

The general business meeting began with the continued conditional use land approval hearing related to desire of Allentown SMSA Limited Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless to build a cellular monopole structure in Steel City. That meeting began at the last council meeting but was cut short after only one-and-a-half hours.

 

But before the hearing formally got underway, attempts were made by both Councilmembers Jason Banonis and Tom Carocci to have Council President Priscilla deLeon recuse herself from the proceedings due to her property abutting the proposed location for the monopole structure as well as previous comments she had made publicly in opposition to the proposed development.

 

Ultimately, deLeon did not recuse herself and solicitor Goudsouzian led the four-plus hour hearing. Nevertheless, after the second hearing and more than six hours of testimony, a determination was still not made. Rather, both parties will have time to file additional briefs and conclude with their closing arguments at the March 20, 2024, council meeting.

 

Moving on to the Township’s 2024 budget, Council President deLeon made the motion (Opthof-Cordaro second) to approve the amended 2024 budget which would include increasing taxes from what was previously approved in December 2023.

 

During Council’s discussion, Councilmember Banonis brought up the fact that raising taxes was in violation of the Second-Class Township Code.

 

Both Councilmembers Banonis and Carocci cited that raising taxes with millions in surplus was a violation of law. Carocci stated, “I don’t know why we’re raising taxes…when we have over $9 million in the bank. I think it’s just confiscating residents’ money just to keep in a Township bank account. It belongs to the taxpayers.”

 

Mr. Banonis pointed out that not only was there more than $9 million in a surplus account but that the more than 50-year-old Bethlehem Landfill will pay Lower Saucon Township more than $72 million. 

 

Council would go on to vote 3-2: deLeon, Opthof-Cordaro, and Laura Ray YES for raising taxes; Banonis and Carocci, voting NO to raise taxes.

 

After those motions had passed, Councilmember Banonis read the Second-Class Township Code, Section 1508.1, related to the operating reserve fund: “no appropriation shall be made to the operating reserve fund if the effect of the appropriations would cause the fund to exceed 25% of the estimated revenues of the township’s general fund in a current fiscal year.”

 

Additionally, Banonis pointed out that the three members of Council who voted for the needless tax increase also violated PA Law for publishing and passing a knowingly inaccurate budget that was off by at least $620,000.”

 

“What you have done is broken the law by approving a budget that contains greater than 25% of the estimated reserves of the Township,” Banonis claimed. He went on to outline that supervisors who act in this way are committing a summary offense of which conviction could result in fines to be paid to the township’s general fund. He then offered copies of his documentation to one of the Township police officers asking for the investigation and prosecution of councilmembers Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro, and Laura Ray.

 

Council then adopted a motion to accept the resignation of the previous solicitor, Curtin & Heefner LLP [read the Saucon Voice story here] who served for 16 days. Councilmembers Banonis and Carocci both asked for clarity on how the decision was made to hire that firm and what transpired to cause him to leave after such a short time. Both asked about how much money had been paid or what would be billed by the former solicitor, but Township Mark Hudson was unaware. The motion passed 3-2, with both Banonis and Carocci stating they wanted an explanation before voting to accept the resignation.

 

After the vote, there was discussion and an attempt by Banonis and Carocci to bring back long-time and former solicitor Linc Treadwell. deLeon, Opthof-Cordaro, and Ray did not agree.

 

The meeting in its entirety may be viewed viewed here.


If you like this article and our alternative perspective to the local mainstream narrative, please help us by sharing it. In particular, Facebook is actively suppressing our posts so please share there if you use it.


258 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page