EASTON, Pa. – Northampton County Budget Administrator Doran Hamann has worked on his last budget. Hamann is retiring.
County Council thanked the 40-year employee for guiding them through the budget process, one of the biggest tasks they face each year and a job that has become more difficult.
"The budget in 1980 was $40 million," Hamann said at Thursday's council meeting. "Today, you received a budget that is $445 million."
"I can't imagine a budget hearing without you," Councilman John Cusick said.
Robert Werner thanked Hamann for his open-door policy.
"I've enjoyed my 40 years," Hamann said. He said in the future, he might serve as an appointee on a county board.
"Doran Hamann is as close to being irreplaceable as an employee can be," County Executive Lamont McClure said.
The 2020 budget, Hamann's last, was presented earlier Thursday. McClure's spending plan includes no tax increase and a cut in total spending.
The county executive said the budget includes money for preserving open space because there is no other way to fight off the onslaught of warehouses.
Council reviewed a plan to refinance existing bonds at lower rates, potentially saving about 3%, or $2 million in present value, on about $66 million of debt. That proposal will be voted on Oct. 17. Council approved the hiring of Dinsmore & Shohl of Pittsburgh as bond counsel, at a cost of up to $29,500 plus expenses.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Roger Dreisbach-Williams of Williams Township objected to a recent council resolution in favor of a national bank to pay for infrastructure improvements. Supporters of the bank idea, including followers of the late perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, contend that such a bank could pay for improvements to roads, bridges and mass transit.
Dreisbach-Williams said existing federal programs can take care of infrastructure.
In other business, the council approved 8-1 a resolution in favor of the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety Bill, a proposed state law to apply Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations to state and county workers. The resolution will be forwarded to the county's delegation in Harrisburg. The bill is named in honor of an Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority worker who died on the job in 2014.
Cusick said he supports worker safety but he voted no after noting that the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania opposes the law. CCAP is the primary lobbying agency for counties, and Cusick suggested raising the issue with the association.
Councilman William McGee said he will discuss the bill with CCAP.
James Irwin, president of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, spoke in favor of the resolution, saying all public employees should have the same rights as private-sector workers.
McClure and Judge Paula Roscioli presented a proclamation to Kristine Sales, a 35-year domestic relations employee and Mary Kunkel Award of Excellence honoree for her service to children. The statewide award is named for the late Mary Kunkel, who worked in Carbon County's domestic relations department.
McClure told Sales that, in short, "the proclamation says you're great."