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Hellertown Temporarily Cuts Ties with Lower Saucon

Borough of Hellertown Tax

Hellertown borough council Monday followed through on what it promised to do late last month, by voting to pause all intergovernmental relations with Lower Saucon Township pending their re-examination, which it was estimated would happen in about a month.

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Borough of Hellertown Tax

Hellertown Borough Hall (FILE PHOTO)

Hellertown borough council Monday followed through on what it promised to do late last month, by voting to pause all intergovernmental relations with Lower Saucon Township pending their re-examination, which it was estimated would happen in about a month.

The motion to temporarily cut ties with the township was made after Hellertown officials were upset by claims made by Lower Saucon Council members regarding the borough and its involvement with the negotiation of a new Hellertown Area Library agreement.

Lower Saucon Township Council voted 4-1 to reject the five-year agreement worth more than half a million dollars in lieu of making a one-time $50,000 donation to the library, with council president Jason Banonis citing a lack of transparency in negotiation-related communications with the township at a Jan. 19 council meeting.

Banonis claimed that the five-year library agreement was “made in secret” and was part of a “deliberate” effort to exclude the township from ongoing discussions about it.

“This was a crisis borne of the library in Hellertown, designed to benefit the library in Hellertown,” he said, adding later that, “the library and Hellertown borough apparently feel Lower Saucon Township is unimportant except for its money. Hellertown only wants to be aligned with Lower Saucon when it suits them.”

Hellertown mayor David Heintzelman and borough council Tom Rieger later refuted those claims by presenting evidence that the borough, the library and the township were in regular communication about the library agreement negotiations starting last spring.

In light of Lower Saucon’s rejection of the five-year library agreement borough council had already approved, council had its staff draft a new, two-year agreement solely between the borough and the library, which was approved last week along with an emergency appropriation of $75,000 in CARES Act funding for the library, whose trustees rejected the $50,000 donation Lower Saucon Township had offered them.

Lower Saucon Township residents are receiving access to the library and its services through Feb. 28, while talks between township officials and the library trustees continue.

Meanwhile, at a special borough council meeting about the library held Jan. 26, Rieger announced that Lower Saucon Township’s “actions have truly fractured beyond immediate repair the once close relationship we shared,” and said, “it is my opinion that our community vision is no longer shared with Lower Saucon Township.”


He then said that the numerous cooperative agreements the two municipalities are party to would be re-examined, which was what Monday night’s authorized. Council member Terri Fadem abstained from the vote and councilman Gil Stauffer was absent. Voting in favor of the motion were councilmen Rieger, Earl Hill, Mike McKenna, Matt Marcincin and Andrew Hughes.

Two of the physical representations of the relationship between Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township are the Saucon Rail Trail–which extends through both communities–and the Saucon Valley Compost Center, which is jointly funded and operated, although it is physically located on Springtown Hill Road in the township. Lower Saucon Township residents also receive a resident discount at the Hellertown Pool, which the township helps subsidize. According to the 2022 final township budget, “The Hellertown Pool was open for (the) 2021 season and the price per resident compared to non-resident totaled $10,665.” Support by the township for the 82-year-old pool is a relatively recent phenomenon, according to a 2013 Patch article. It was also in 2013 that Lower Saucon Township officials ended their agreement with the Bethlehem Area Public Library to enter an agreement with the Hellertown Area Library, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Perhaps most significantly, Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township together form the Saucon Valley School District, and along with the district have for many years been part of a local council of governments known as the Saucon Valley Partnership.

In a post on his borough council president Facebook page following Monday night’s meeting, Rieger announced that pending the re-examination of its relationship with the township,the borough would not be participating in this week’s SVP meeting. He noted that a ZOOM meeting link for the gathering would still be available for use by the public.

In addition to being held in person at Borough Hall, Wednesday’s borough council meeting was livestreamed on Zoom and Facebook, and a recording is embedded below.

The next Hellertown Borough Council meeting will be held in-person and online on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Meetings are generally held on the first and third Monday of each month, however because of the Presidents Day holiday there will be no meeting Feb. 21. Lower Saucon Township Council’s next meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lower Saucon Town Hall, 3700 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bethlehem.

It is expected that township council will vote on accepting the recent resignation of township manager Leslie Huhn at the Feb. 16 meeting.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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