SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – South Whitehall Township's Board of Commissioners took a step Wednesday toward using $115,000 from its reserve fund to help small businesses get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program, proposed by Commissioner Matthew Mobilio, would provide grants of up to $2,500 to eligible businesses and it would be administered by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Mobilio, board President Tori Morgan and Joseph Setton voted in favor of advertising the ordinance creating the program. Diane Kelly and Michael Wolk were opposed.
"It may not be a lot of money but it's what we can do," said Setton, who last year questioned whether such a program would make a difference.
"I hesitate to begin to take taxpayers' money for private businesses," Kelly said. She said tax dollars should be used to run the government.
Wolk objected to taking the $115,000 from the township's reserve fund, with the pandemic continuing and putting some revenue sources in doubt.
Morgan said the grants will help businesses that support the township.
"Without good, stable small businesses in our community, our community as a whole would suffer, our residents would suffer, our tax base would suffer," she said.
Resident Dave Fritz opposed the program, saying tax dollars should go to roads, parks and other costs of government, while Keisha Champagnie spoke in favor of grants.
"Any little bit will make a difference to our small businesses," she said.
The 3-2 vote will allow for a final decision on the program at the commissioners' Jan. 20 meeting.
In other business, the board approved the appointment of Lee Solt as an alternate member on the South Whitehall zoning hearing board.
The vote was 4-1, with Kelly dissenting. She said, as she has previously that the process of filling spots on boards and commissions does not allow sufficient input from all commissioners.