Community Government

Upper Saucon Appoints 2 Township Employees to So. Lehigh Library Board

Upper Saucon Southern Lehigh Library

Over the objections of members of their audience–which included numerous Lower Saucon Township residents–the Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Monday to appoint township communications director Patrick Leonard and township manager Thomas Beil to seats on the Southern Lehigh Public Library board of directors.

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Upper Saucon Southern Lehigh Library

Above, Upper Saucon Township manager Thomas Beil gestures as he speaks during Monday’s board of supervisors meeting. Pictured, from left to right, are vice chairman Philip Spaeth, chairman Brian Farrell, board solictor Rocco Beltrami, township engineer Charles Unangst, Beil and assistant township manager Joseph Geib.

Over the objections of members of their audience–which included a number of Lower Saucon Township residents–the Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Monday to appoint township director of general services Patrick Leonard and township manager Thomas Beil to seats on the Southern Lehigh Public Library board of directors.

Leonard, who is an Upper Saucon resident, was appointed to replace SLPL board president Candi Kruse. Kruse’s three-year term on the board ended Dec. 31, 2022, the supervisors’ solicitor said, based upon the township’s interpretation of the state library code, and she remained on the board until only recently because of the amount of time it took to interview candidates to replace her.

The section of libary code referenced by attorney Rocco Beltrami states that “A library director shall serve for a term of three years or until a successor is appointed.”

Kruse presided over the library board’s lengthy April 19 meeting, during which an offer by Lower Saucon Township to pay SLPL $1 million over 10 years in exchange for full library services for Lower Saucon residents and board representation equivalent to the township’s level of funding was debated for nearly two hours.

After some board members said accepting the offer by Lower Saucon would put the SLPL in a deeper financial hole than it’s in now, and after votes on several motions related to it ended in deadlock, Kruse proposed scheduling a public meeting with the library’s current funding partners to discuss the offer. Currently, Upper Saucon Township, Southern Lehigh School District, Lower Milford Township and Coopersburg borough all fund the SLPL on an annual basis. However, only the school district and Upper Saucon provide amounts equivalent to 15 percent or more of the library’s annual budget, which under the library’s by-laws is required in order for library board members to be voting members. Upper Saucon Township now has voting representatives on the library board, while the school district, Coopersburg and Lower Milford have one each. Coopersburg’s and Lower Milford’s board members are currently ex oficio (non-voting) board members.

Leonard was appointed to fill a term ending Dec. 31, 2025 and Beil, who is a Lower Macungie Township resident, was appointed to fill a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2023. Beil’s appointment was made “pursuant to Article II of the library’s by-laws,” the meeting agenda said. Article II states, in part, that “the number of voting members from the municipalities will be proportionate to their respective monetary support.”

“To me it looks and seems very unethical,” said Lower Saucon Township resident Laura Ray of the staff appointments to the library board. “You already have an intelligent and experienced board in place.”

Beltrami responded to the criticism by saying there is nothing in either the library’s by-laws or the state code that would prevent a municipal employee from serving on the board.

Former SLPL board member and Upper Saucon resident Rachel Pfeiffer also said she viewed the move as “unethical” and implored the supervisors not to remove Kruse, who she said devoted hundreds of hours and went above and beyond as a library board member, attending voluteer meetings, library events and fundraisers, which she also helped organize.

“Candi has done a phenomenal job on this board,” Pfeiffer said. “Don’t do that to our board. Don’t do that to our library. It’s not fair. It’s not right.”

Current SLPL board member Kathie Parsons, who represents the school district as a library board representative, said she was “disappointed” by the actions the supervisors were considering.

“I have never heard of a board appointing someone that lives in a different township and is employed by a (funding partner),” she said.

She said she believes the fact that Leonard reports to Beil at the township could be a “conflict of interest” because of the nature of the employer-employee relationship. She asked the board how Leonard will be able to make library board decisions independently given that fact, but didn’t receive a reply.

John Schubert Upper Saucon Southern Lehigh Library

Upper Saucon resident and Southern Lehigh Public Library board representative John Schubert addresses the Upper Saucon Board of Supervisors at their meeting Monday. Despite various criticisms of the board’s plan to put two township staff members on the board, both appointments were approved unanimously, 4-0.

John Schubert, an Upper Saucon resident and also a current SLPL board member, warned that the change in board membership could have a chilling effect on the morale of library volunteers.

“You’ve got to keep your people happy,” he said. “In the case of the library board, that means keeping volunteers happy. In the case of the township supervisors, that means keeping library board members happy.”

“Ms. Kruse…is a very capable board member,” he added. He noted that while he has been one to “tell Lower Saucon to pound sand” at board meetings, Kruse has worked hard to find a compromise solution to the situation involving the $1 million offer and its implications for the library’s finances. “You ought to be thanking her for that,” he told the supervisors.

Lower Saucon Township resident Kathy Pichel-McGovern also sang Kruse’s praises. Pichel-McGovern is currently running as a Republican in the Lower Saucon Township Council primary election, with opposition to Lower Saucon’s bid to join Southern Lehigh Public Library as a funding partner as part of her campaign platform. Pichel-McGovern told supervisors she supports Lower Saucon renewing its relationship with its former home library, the Hellertown Area Library, which she said will be hurt financially if it continues to serve only Hellertown borough.

“Really think before you make a decision,” she told the supervisors, one of whom she questioned about a possible relationship to a Lower Saucon Township councilman with the same last name.

“He’s my brother,” responded Upper Saucon supervisor John Inglis, after Pichel-McGovern asked him if he is related to Lower Saucon Township council vice president Mark Inglis. Mark Inglis is also running for election in the Republican primary in Lower Saucon.

Mark Inglis voted in support of making the $1 million offer to Southern Lehigh Public Library in early April. The offer, which included a request that library services begin June 1, expired May 4.

After the unanimous vote to appoint Beil to the SLPL board, Farrell commented that the board would “hopefully resurrect” the offer during a discussion about it that was on the meeting agenda.

Several speakers at the meeting criticized the manner in which that discussion was framed in the agenda, under the headline “Southern Lehigh Public Library’s rejection of Lower Saucon Township’s million-dollar proposal for library services.”

SLPL board member Kat Moyer, who represents Coopersburg borough as an ex oficio member, clarified that the board never outright rejected Lower Saucon’s proposal.

“It’s not just us saying ‘no thanks’ to $1 million. That would be ridiculous,” she said. Instead, Moyer said the motion that was passed was intended to allow discussions about it to continue.

The logic behind the meeting plan, she said, was that the proposal from Lower Saucon was flawed from a financial perspective and there was no reason to “rush” a decision on it. Consequently, the board wanted to meet with its current funding partners to explain the proposal to them, and to discuss the potential legal and financial implications of accepting it as is.

The SLPL library board meeting for May has been canceled, which means that the board’s next meeting will likely be held Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Southern Lehigh Public Library.

Upper Saucon Township supervisors voted to cancel their scheduled May 22 meeting due to a lack of business, which means that their next meeting will be held Monday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the township municipal building. Meeting agendas and minutes may be reviewed on the township’s website.

Southern Lehigh Public Library board representative Kathie Parsons addresses the Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors on Monday. Parsons is a former Southern Lehigh Public Library employee and a former Southern Lehigh School Board member who currently serves as the school district’s sole voting member on the 7-member library board. She defended former SLPL board president Candi Kruse, whose replacement on the board is township director of general services Patrick Leonard. Supervisors cited the state library code in appointing Leonard to fill a term that will end on Dec. 31, 2025.


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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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