Community Family Government

Upper Saucon Plans to Appoint Township Staff to So. Lehigh Library Board

SLPL Updated

It appears a shakeup is occurring on the Southern Lehigh Public Library board, weeks after a meeting during which some members expressed dissatisfaction with a Lower Saucon Township offer to pay $1 million over 10 years for full library services for its residents.

Est. Read Time: 4 mins

Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the next meeting of the Southern Lehigh Public Library board of directors would be held May 16, however according to an announcement on the SLPL website that meeting has been canceled. The next meeting is scheduled to be held Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the library. That version of the story incorrectly identified Candi Kruse as library board treasurer, based on the information published on the SLPL website. Kruse was elected board president in January 2023. The full voting members on the library board are the Upper Saucon Township and Southern Lehigh School District representatives. An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified SLSD’s representative as a limited voting member.

A shakeup appears to be occurring on the Southern Lehigh Public Library board of directors, just weeks after a meeting during which some of its members expressed dissatisfaction with a Lower Saucon Township offer to pay $1 million over 10 years in exchange for full library services for its residents.

The agenda for Monday’s Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors meeting confirms that president Candi Kruse is no longer a member of the SLPL board and states that a township employee–Director of General Services Patrick Leonard, who is also a resident–has been chosen to fill her seat.

“Mr. Leonard is being appointed to fill the position most recently held by Candi Kruse, whose term expired on Dec. 31, 2022,” the agenda states.

The agenda lists consideration of a motion to appoint Leonard to a three-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2025 along with a motion to appoint township Manager Thomas Beil, a Lower Macungie Township resident, to a partial library board term which would end on Dec. 31, 2023.

“This appointment is being made pursuant to Article II of the Library’s by-laws,” the meeting agenda states. The text of that Article is not included with the agenda, which also lists a discussion about “Southern Lehigh Public Library’s rejection of Lower Saucon Township’s million-dollar proposal for library services” under Direction/Discussion Items.

Kruse–a candidate for a Southern Lehigh School Board seat–presided over the April SLPL board meeting and as of Saturday was still listed as board treasurer on the library’s website, although that information was out of date as she was elected president of the board in January.

The board of directors page on the library’s website notes that as of Jan. 1, 2023 “the following positions on the library’s Board of Directors will exist: Two (2) representatives (residents) living within Upper Saucon Township to fill two (2) 3-year terms, Jan. 1, 2023-Dec. 31, 2025.”

The other Southern Lehigh Public Library board members currently representing Upper Saucon Township are John Schubert, Vickie Maund and vice president Bruce Eames.

Coopersburg borough and Southern Lehigh School District each have one board representative, with Coopersburg’s vote often symbolic due to the levels at which it funds the SLPL budget.

Lower Milford Township also has a board representative who lacks a full vote for the same reason. The SLPL website states that the seat is vacant, but Saucon Source has confirmed that Ellen Deebel was appointed board representative at the April 20 Lower Milford Township Board of Supervisors meeting.

Upper Saucon Township officials have previously said they want the library board to consider the potential financial benefits of expanding the library’s service area to include Lower Saucon Township, while library officials–including board members–have acknowledged feeling pressure to address the financial concerns of their current funding partners as part of their fiduciary duty.

In July 2022, the library accepted a $50,000 “unconditional” donation from Lower Saucon Township, although library officials at the time said they did so only with “serious trepidation.”

Over the past year, the board has been repeatedly told by Lower Saucon residents that they don’t want their home library to be the Southern Lehigh Public Library. Instead, the residents who have spoken at meetings have said they want the township to create a new agreement with the Hellertown Area Library, citing its proximity to their homes and to schools, among other reasons.

Lower Saucon Township was part of Hellertown Area Library’s service area from 2014 to 2022. The Office of Commonwealth Libraries removed the township from the HAL service area at the end of 2022 following a series of events that began with Lower Saucon Township council’s January 2022 decision to reject a new five-year agreement with HAL and offer a $50,000 donation instead.

Amid the turmoil caused by the current situation involving Lower Saucon Township–in which the board has appeared caught between its fiduciary duties to its jurisdictional partners and starkly different demands from members of the public–Kruse had sometimes acted as a consensus-builder during meeting discussions, and she appeared to do that at the April 19 library board meeting.

Several board members said they felt the cost of serving Lower Saucon residents would outweigh the revenue the library would receive if it accepted Lower Saucon’s $1 million offer, and multiple votes on possible courses of action resulted in deadlock until Kruse made a proposal to schedule a public meeting with funding partners to discuss Lower Saucon’s proposal and its ramifications.

Lower Saucon Township had given the board until May 4 to accept what it termed the township’s best and final library services offer, but it appeared a foregone conclusion that the meeting would not be held before that deadline. A possible date in June was mentioned, however no decision was made about when and where the meeting would be held.

Monday’s Upper Saucon Township supervisors meeting will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the township municipal building at 5500 Camp Meeting Road, Center Valley.

The next Lower Saucon Township Council meeting will be held Wednesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Lower Saucon Town Hall, and the next Southern Lehigh Public Library board meeting is scheduled to be held Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the library in Center Valley.


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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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