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Lehigh Valley

Williams Twp. approves 60 percent tax hike

WILLIAMS TWP., Pa. - No matter how you look at it, property owners in Williams Twp., Northampton Co., got dumped on Wednesday night.

Supervisors pulled the trigger on the 2014 budget, one that includes a huge 60 percent tax hike from 2.5 to 4 mills, for the simple reason they have nothing left to do to produce a balanced budget.

The township is losing about 67 percent of its revenue from the Chrin landfill as the two sides are embroiled in a spirited legal fight in Northampton County Court, centering around whether the township has the right to collect millions of dollars in back privilege taxes.

This legal fight has spurred Chrin to cut by two-thirds the amount it pays in host fees to the township.

One of the "yes" votes came from Supervisor Sally Hixon, who in her swan song as a supervisor after eight years and more than 35 years of service to the township in various capacities, made an impassioned plea to her colleagues to pass a motion to once again open negotiations with Chrin as a third party would serve as a mediator.

"We need to stop the anti-landfill verbiage it doesn't do us any good," she said. "At some point we need to be objective."

Chairman George Washburn and Supervisor Vincent Foglia praised Hixon's contributions to the township, her integrity, her vision and her intelligence on this her last night, but they would not support the motion in any way.

Instead, both took turns laying wood to Chrin. They both made lengthy speeches, which centered around what they said were "the facts."

Foglia said there was no repeal to the tax, as Chrin suggested there was, and that as a second-class township in Pennsylvania, nothing of the nature had ever happened in public in Williams Township.

"Repeals are supposed to be done by ordinance," he said.

Foglia added that he had taken an oath upon becoming a supervisor to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and that was exactly what he intended to do.

Washburn said the township had attempted to reach an amicable settlement with Chrin as recently as late summer and early autumn, and were under the impression that progress was being made on the issue, an impression that turned out to be completely inaccurate.

The total budget passed Wednesday night was just over $2.538 million. The township has already spent $100,000 in legal fees in its efforts to fight Chrin, according to Mohammad Umar Choudhry, the head of the township budget advisory committee.

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