South Whitehall holds line on property taxes for 24th year

Posted: 11:23 PM EST Dec 19, 2012   Updated: 6:55 AM EST Dec 20, 2012

No one has ever been able to figure out exactly how old property taxes are, except that it goes back at least 2,000 years, and that means for at least 2,000 years people have complained about paying them.

For the last 23 of those at least 2,000 years, the property owners in South Whitehall Township have had it good. The township has held the line on taxes every budget from 1989 through 2012 and even the cost of chewing gum has gone up in 23 years.

On Wednesday night the board of commissioners again shunned inflation and extended that streak by unanimously approving a budget that keeps the current tax rate at 4.9 mills.

Keeping in the spirit of fiscal matters, the board also approved a four-year contract with Teamsters Local #773 for public works department employees. The deal allocated a 1.5 percent pay increase for employees during the first year, with subsequent raises to 2 percent the next year, 2.75 percent in the third year and 3.25 percent in 2016, according to Township Manager Jon Hammer. The deal also allocates employees will make additional contributions to help the township offset rising health care costs.

It was the awarding of another contract that “bewildered” Commissioner David Bond. It started with a motion involving the awarding of the contract to pick up stray dogs and casts for 2013 to one of two applicants – the Lehigh County Humane Society or the Sanctuary at Haafsville. The Sanctuary’s proposal, at $6,000, was considerably lower but still was an expensive proposition for Bond.

During the meeting he calculated the cost per animal, based on previous statistics, at about $100 per animal and inquired if the township had negotiated that fee per animal to lower costs.

When administration director Tony Ganguzza replied that the bids were what they were, Bond noted that the cost was excessive for township residents to have to pay.

Nevertheless with the current contract with the Humane Society set to expire at the end of the month, the board voted 5-0 to go with Haafsville, with President Christina Morgan noting that negotiating the specifics of the animal control contract could be explored for next year’s deal.

But perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most inspiring issue of the evening had nothing to do with money and everything to do with love.

Kimberly Resh, who is president of a non-profit organization entitled Mikayla’s Voice, which is an acronym for The Voice of Inclusion for Children Everywhere. The endeavor was named in honor of her 15-year old daughter Mikayla, who was born with severe brain damage, which led to cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, blindness and finally a hearing impairment.

“The organization inspires children to be inclusive,” she told commissioners.

Resh presented a proficient powerpoint presentation and asked the board for permission to close a handful roads during a triathlon for about three hours on June 30th, 2013. The goal for the triathlon is to have about 450 youngsters participating in swimming, biking and running activities, primarily on the grounds of Parkland High School.

Commissioners enthusiastically gave Resh township support. Commissioner Dale Daubert, known for his often blunt and seltzer demeanor during meetings, told Resh he said it was the best presentation he had seen during his 23 years as a commissioner.