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Lehigh Valley

NorCo Council narrowly OKs State Theatre funding

Money will be used for ticketing system

EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County Council on Thursday narrowly voted to award $20,000 from it's $100,000 contingency budget to Easton's State Theater for a new ticketing system the entertainment venue said is sorely needed.

With Councilman Seth Vaughn absent and Councilman Matt Dietz excused early, the initial 4-2 vote in favor wasn't enough to approve the resolution because it lacked a majority vote of five council members.

On a second round vote preceded by further discussion, outgoing councilman Matt Benol changed his mind because, he later said, it was more important to support the theater from the county's contingency budget rather than pay for it out of the 2018 general fund budget.

Fellow outgoing Councilman Hayden Phillips also felt the money should be a budgeted line item because the contingency budget is for emergency items, not for company infrastructure upgrades.

"What's this? Just go down to the courthouse and get some money?" Phillips said.

Denise Smith, State Theater's vice president of development, explained to council that the theater "has a horrible technology problem" and is not in step with today's more online world. She said gift cards, a significant portion of the theater's sales, cannot be redeemed online and have to be phoned in to the box office for redemption.

Additionally, she said ticket sales cannot be printed from a buyer's home computer.

Smith further advocated for a new ticketing system saying it would save her company nearly $10,000 annually in postage costs and also allow for increased marketing and social media integration and online suggestive selling, which is recommending an additional purchase.

Smith said upfront hard costs of $25,000 are needed to secure ticketing company Showare of New York, N.Y., to handle the State Theater account. She added that equipment purchases also are needed to replace 20-year-old printers and monitors and to purchase ticket scanners.

In other business, council approved additional fund transfers from its contingency budget for:

  • $5,000 for Bethlehem nonprofit Because of a Dog for food, medicine and supplies for stray dogs, and for the construction of a new dog kennel in Bethlehem.
  • $5,000 for Stephen's Place in Bethlehem, a residential support services organization providing needed assistance to non-violent male convicts recently released from prison with a history of substance abuse. The program assists these men in their addiction recovery and their reintegration from incarceration back into society.

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