Lehigh Valley

No tax increase in 2018 for Bethlehem Township

Volunteer firefighters getting a tax credit

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - Bethlehem Township commissioners passed the 2018 budget on Monday evening with no tax increase.

The budget passed 4-0, maintaining the township’s 7.09 millage rate.

Commissioners also approved a service credit program to establish tax credits for volunteer firefighters who live in Bethlehem Township.

Under the new tax program, volunteer firefighters residing in the township are eligible for a 20 percent real estate tax credit and up to $1,000 off their earned income tax.

It was a two-part approval. First, commissioners approved by ordinance a change to the township’s tax code to allow the tax credits. Afterward, they approved Resolution R084-17 to set the program in motion.

Twenty-three members of the Nancy Run and Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire companies were eligible for the tax credit.

To be eligible, volunteers must respond to 85 emergency response calls, 20 percent of formal training and drills or attend six meetings of the volunteer fire company.

Also, township commissioners voted 3-1 not to allow “mini casino” expansions in the township.

Officially called a Category 4 casino, these could eventually operate between 300 and 750 slot machines and up to 50 table games.

Category 4 casinos are not allowed within 25 miles of an existing casino of a larger scale. The township would likely not be eligible for an expansion anyway, according to solicitor James Broughal.

The vote is in reaction to Pennsylvania House Bill 271, which authorized gambling expansion opportunities around the state.

Bethlehem Township will meet again Tues., Jan. 2, 2018 for its annual reorganization meeting.

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