Commissioners bolster financial support to law
Lehigh Valley Commissioners augmented funding to the offices of public defender, district attorney, and county coroner at its Aug. 22 meeting. According to Commissioner Percy Dougherty, crimes, including homicide, are up in the Lehigh Valley.
"The number of cases the public defender handles has increased drastically," he said. "It's almost guaranteed that the public defender is going to be back to us for more funding by the end of the year."
The board unanimously approved seven resolutions, two of which channel money to the coroner's office for advanced analysis of DNA evidence and transport of the deceased. The other five assist the public defender and district attorney with increased case loads, as well as covering the costs of an e-filing system for legal documentation.
Later, a bill that would grant funding for community revitalization to Whitehall townships and Coopersburg and Emmaus boroughs was given its first reading. Emmaus and Whitehall stand to receive $15,000 each if the grant passes. Coopersburg stands to receive $2,000.
Discussion centered primarily on the grant to the Borough of Emmaus, which would be administered by the Emmaus Main Street Partners to provide revolving loans to businesses in the borough. The loans would be backed by banks on the condition that the borough itself contributes money to the program.
Commissioner Scott Ott argued that such a contribution should come from the borough of Emmaus, not from county tax payers.
"The banks want to see community involvement" Ott said, "but we're not giving them that, we're taking money involuntarily from farmers in Lynn Township and saying it's the stake Emmaus is putting up and that's not true."
Emmaus resident John Donches addressed the board and sided with Ott.
"This is taking money from everywhere you get taxes from, earmarking it and giving welfare to certain areas, I think we should chip in our own if we want something in Emmaus."
Virginia Savage, who is the county community revitalization and development manager, argued in support of the bill, telling the board, "This [grant] is just one piece of the puzzle and one piece they're short on." The vote on this bill will take place at the next commissioners meeting Sept. 12.