A dispute between Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township officials that began with a disagreement over library services and later spread to involve other previously shared facilities has culminated in a lawsuit filed by the borough Wednesday in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas.
The suit alleges that the township owes the borough nearly $30,000 in funds belonging to the Saucon Valley Compost Center, which the borough owns but shared under an agreement with the township that ended on Dec. 31.
“Lower Saucon, despite no longer being a partner in the Saucon Valley Compost Center, has held and continues to hold 100 percent of the Compost Center funds,” it says.
It alleges that “despite demand” the township “has refused to transfer the Compost Center funds to Hellertown” and that the township “has no legal justification” to continue holding on to the money.
The suit was filed with the court on the borough’s behalf Wednesday by attorney Jeffrey S. Stewart of White and Williams LLP of Center Valley, and includes information about the compost center’s history dating back to the 1990s.
It states that following discussions with the township in 2006 and 2007, the borough applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a yard waste recycling center permit in April 2007, and that the borough received permission to do so the following month. A DEP letter dated May 14, 2007 addressed to the borough’s then-public works director Tom Henshaw is included with the lawsuit as an exhibit.
The suit includes a timeline of the borough’s version of the library services disagreement that soured relations with their one-time ally and led borough officials to sever joint agreements with Lower Saucon involving the compost center and the Hellertown Pool.
Borough officials announced the suit on the borough Facebook page Wednesday, where they said it was being shared “to continue full transparency with our community.”
As of Wednesday night, residents of both municipalities appeared to be reacting to the news with sadness and anger.
“Angry our tax dollars are funding this, our township council should be paying lawsuits out of their pockets, not ours,” commented Susan Scheks-Taylor. “Didn’t vote them in, angry about the library and now compost, now paying for a lawsuit?”
And Ellen Gabel Fischer commented that it’s “so said it’s come to this.”