Northampton County Gaming commission: Boroughs ask for assistance
The Northampton County Gaming Revenue and Economic Redevelopment Authority is a good place for local boroughs in the Lehigh Valley to ask for financial support in meeting their growing need. On Sept. 24, at Northampton County Courthouse the authority met with several representatives from boroughs that are in the process of applying for grants. Typically the grant process consists of several municipalities asking for a grant for a specific need. The 14-15 Gaming Authority members then have an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns. The final process is a final meeting with the Authority and the representatives for which they are told whether or not their grant was approved.
One such borough was Bethlehem Township. Bethlehem Township police has asked for 63,700 to furnish their force with two new Harley Davidson Motorcycles. They currently have old motorcycles that the force plans to keep for training purposes. A police representative explained that these motorcycles are crucial for traffic control and the 10 percent of casino related DUI checkpoints in Bethlehem Township. In addition, the motorcycles are used for escort purposes at the casino. Bethlehem Township emergency medical technicians asked that they be given a grant for new stretchers. The authority will look into the need and make a final decision next month.
Judith Danko, manager of Freemansburg Borough, also has asked the authority for assistance with their police force, namely for hiring another officer. This grant would be enough to cover the salary of a police officer as well as benefits. Freemansburg Borough faces the need for more police officers due to the impact that the casino has had on the area.
Lower Saucon Township asked the authority for a grant to fund another police officer as well. Township representative asked for the equivalent of one officer's yearly salary including health, life insurance and potential benefits.
Several members of the authority, such as John J. Finnigan Jr., suggested to the borough representatives that they must budget the costs of police officer salary into the next few years. The authority may not have the funds due to other needs to continue the funding after this year if the grant is approved. All final decisions will be made at the next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m. The authority hopes that once these grants are resolved there will be no need for meetings in November or December.