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LST Council Approves $98,000 Payment to Hellertown Library

Hellertown library

Lower Saucon Township Council’s 3-1 vote last week to pay Hellertown Area Library approximately $98,000 in fees for which the township was invoiced in 2022 was met with applause and cheers.

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Lower Saucon Township Council’s 3-1 vote last week to pay Hellertown Area Library approximately $98,000 in fees for which the township was invoiced in 2022 was met with applause and cheers.

The brand new council majority made up of Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and Laura Ray supported the measure, which they said was the right thing for the township to do in light of the fact that township residents continued to have access to HAL until Jan. 1, 2023, when Lower Saucon was removed from the library’s service area by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.

The township’s agreement with the library expired at the end of January 2022, after then-council members voted 4-1 against a new 5-year agreement with HAL approximately two years ago.

DeLeon, who was the only township council member to oppose that decision, said Jan. 2 that she believed the township still owes the library for the unpaid invoices from 2022.

“From my perspective, Lower Saucon Township took something and did not pay for it,” agreed Opthof-Cordaro.

She said that paying the invoices would demonstrate that “Lower Saucon does not steal” and help restore confidence in a council she said had looked for “legal loopholes” to get what it wants.

Councilman Jason Banonis, who argued against paying the fees to the library, cited the fact that there was no contract with the library in place when the outstanding invoices were submitted.

“I think if this proceeds forward you’re inviting litigation,” he told the three councilwomen.

Banonis also claimed that full library services weren’t provided to township residents during the 11-month period in question.

Opthof-Cordaro said the only money the library received for providing Lower Saucon residents with library services from February through December 2022 was state funding that was apportioned to HAL by the OCL in late 2021 based on the presumption at that time that the township would remain in its service area.

“I personally don’t think we are on any shaky legal ground,” she said, but added that the township’s solicitor should also review the matter.

Outside of council, both Opthof-Cordaro and Banonis are attorneys.

In other business at the meeting, council voted 3-1 to have solicitor Mark Freed and his firm conduct a review of pending litigation involving the township and provide a summary report to council.

Among the currently pending cases is one in federal court involving the township and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which involves the township’s removal from the Hellertown Area Library’s service area at the end of 2022. Other cases involve the Borough of Hellertown, whose relationship with the township became strained after the library agreement was ended.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Freed, but there are a number of pieces of litigation that we need to know the status of,” Opthof-Cordaro told him.

She also asked that a directive to have Freed correspond with the IRS be placed on the next regular township council meeting agenda, which would instruct him to tell that agency that the township does not want St. Luke’s University Health Network to be investigated.

Late last year, the previous council majority approved a motion to report an email sent by St. Luke’s president and CEO Richard Anderson to the IRS after members of council said they believed it was inappropriate. In the email to the hospital community, Anderson discussed a controversial landfill expansion that is proposed in the township, which members of the then-majority supported.

Part of the platform on which deLeon, Opthof-Cordaro and Ray successfully ran for council was a promise to oppose the proposed expansion of Bethlehem Landfill.

Council’s next meeting will be held this Thursday, Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Lower Saucon Town Hall and will include a discussion of the 2024 township budget, which council voted 3-1 to reopen.


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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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