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Slatington passes budget with no tax increase

Slatington Borough Council approved its 2019 budget during its meeting Monday night.

No taxes were raised, and as discussed at the preliminary budget meeting, a reduction in the garbage rate was passed.

The tax rate remains at 4.8 mills and the fire tax at 0.5 mills for a total of 5.3 mills, said council President Daniel Stevens.

“Same as last year,” he said.

The garbage rate will decrease from $55 per quarter to $50 per quarter for a total savings of $64 per year.

Stevens said the garbage rate had been dropped in February by 17 percent, and this decrease is 9 percent.

The reason for the decrease is two-pronged. One, the borough has a good contract with the garbage hauler County Waste for the next three years, and two, the borough has a surplus in the garbage budget.

Council decided to pass the savings along to the residents, he said.

The borough is working on two electronic recycling events in the new year. One in the spring and one in the fall.

“I think we can do two,” said council member Dave Schnaars.

“It’s a good service to offer the community,” Stevens said.

Inspection fees

The council also gave a reduction in the fee for the inspections of houses that are sold and rental units. The fee had been $45, but had been increased to $60 to help cover the cost for code enforcement.

With a change in the firm being used for code enforcement, the borough is seeing a savings, so the council decided to drop the fee back down to the $45 level.

Police chief business

The council passed the police chief’s salary at just over $82,000 a year.

They also approved allowing Police Chief David Rachman to move forward with the purchase of a 2018 Ford Interceptor sedan to replace an aging patrol car. The vehicle purchase was approved at a council meeting in October.

Other matters

In other business, the council discussed the pros and cons of participating in a $5 per vehicle registration fee proposed by Lehigh County commissioners for a second time this past summer.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the state passed a law in 2015 allowing counties to apply a $5 tax on every vehicle registered in its county. The tax would be paid when a vehicle is purchased, registration is renewed or when the registration is transferred. The tax is supposed to help pay for road and transportation costs in the county. Currently, 22 counties have adopted an ordinance implementing the fee.

“People in this area are 100 percent against this fee, but it could help with our projects with Walnut and Main,” said council Vice President Jason Ruff.

Council member Bryon Reed said that there isn’t any guarantee that money would come back to Slatington.

It all could be used in the larger municipalities in Lehigh County, he said.

“Historically, Northern Lehigh is ignored,” Schnaars said.

“It’s like a slot machine,” said council member Joseph Wechsler. “It’s a gamble if you get anything out of it.”