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Local tax bill has error; amended bills to be sent

Members of Emmaus Borough Council held a moment of silence for John Reiss at its April 5 meeting.

Reiss died March 26. He was a member of the Emmaus Public Works department for 41 years. He was the head group leader and a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, once holding the title of assistant fire chief.

A news release will be sent out to announce there was a mistake with the local tax bill for the year. The first tax bill sent out was incorrect because of transposed numbers. It was discovered the general fund tax showed 6.3514 mills. It is actually 6.3154 mills. That is a change of 0.49 percent. So, there will be no increase in the local tax amount.

Council advised if a taxpayer hasn’t paid their borough taxes yet, they should wait until an amended bill is received. The amended bills will be sent out as soon as possible, but there is not a defined date. If any taxpayers have paid, refunds will be sent out. If a check has just been delivered, council advises canceling the check.

During public appeals, two elderly neighbors from the borough voiced concerns over the cost of water and sewage line issues. They said the borough made the mistakes almost 50 years ago when the two residents moved in. However, the issues were only discovered this year. They were looking for compensation to fix the problems.

The issue is that both dwellings are running off one water and sewage line rigged to provide to both houses. However, one of the households is now experiencing a bad leak and it was determined both neighbors will need work done to correct and separate the lines. The residents feel since it was installed by the borough incorrectly, it should be fixed by the borough.

Borough Manager Shane Pepe was made aware of this issue before the meeting. He said the construction of the water lines did not meet current standard. Pepe feels if there is no proof why the borough constructed the waterlines in this fashion, the residents are in the right.

“If we can’t find … any rhyme or reason to why this was approved, I agree with these two. This burden should be as much on the borough as it is on them,” Pepe said.

Borough Engineer Brad Youst said he will go over the waterline and sewage issue in detail. He is going to have to research back to the 1960s to look into the sewage issue.

Emmaus Solicitor Jeffrey Dimmick said each house is supposed to have its own lateral lines. He said council will look to try and help these two neighbors.

Following the public appeals, the previous meeting’s minutes were approved. There was no report from the borough engineer and Dimmick said he is still awaiting a response from Verizon on the revised agreement for the new building.

In the mayor’s report, Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert announced a new officer has completed training and has been assigned to a platoon.

In public works, Councilman Roy Anders announced the compost site is up and running. He said identification is required to be checked in. Pepe said the ID checks are working great.

“We’ve had about 15 cars a night, turning away because we’re checking IDs,” Pepe said.

There were several resolutions in health, sanitation and codes.

Resolution 2021–12 is a revision to Resolution 2021–10, which will realign the final preliminary plan to input a private road in the developer’s preliminary/final land development and lot consolidation plans for The Annex at The Fields of Indian Creek.

Next, council approved Resolution 2021–13, which is The Annex at The Fields at Indian Creek sewage facilities planning module.

Resolution 2021–14 accepts and approves a deed dedication of right of way in and for the extension of Green Street in connection with the Cedar Crest Chestnut Development, L.P. Land Development Plan for a proposed convenience store.

Resolution 2021–15 works alongside the previous resolution in accepting and approving deed dedication for an open space in connection with The Cedar Crest Chestnut Development, L.P. Land Development Plan.

Lastly, Resolution 2021–17 accepts and approves a bill of sale for certain required improvements in connection with the Cedar Crest Chestnut Development, L.P. Land Development Plan.

All resolutions were approved.

The final item on the list for health, sanitation and codes was the Whitetail Disposal one-year contract extension for recycling and trash pickup. Councilman Chad Balliet said Whitetail Disposal was doing a great job and complaints have been way down. This was approved by the council.

Balliet announced Dumpster Day will be Sept. 18 and Hazardous Waste Day will be Oct. 16.

There were no items in parks and recreation. Councilwoman Shana Baumgartner shared a reminder the last meeting for the Lions Park Master Plan will take place 7 p.m. April 7. A link can be found on the Emmaus Borough website. She also asked for members of the public to go on the website for the park study survey.

In general administration, council President Brent Labenberg announced Resolution 2021–16. This is for the Community Development Block Grant Funds application, which is an application to Lehigh County and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for community development block grant funds. This was used for curb cuts for handicap ramps. The resolution was approved by the council.

In other business, Labenberg announced borough meetings will go back to in-person May 3. Committee meetings will still take place virtually, unless the committees decide to meet in-person.

Junior Councilman Jonas Hausmann announced Emmaus High School had not been open for the week of March 26-30 due to rising COVID-19 cases. The school was set to open April 6.

In the borough manager’s report, Pepe announced the borough will run an auction on new electricity rates. They will continue to solicit separate proposals from independent contractors to compare rates as well.

April 14 will be a public presentation for the possibility of remodeling and renovations to the police station, borough hall and the fire/ambulance building. A follow-up meeting will take place April 28 to discuss and debate the project.

The next borough council meeting will be held 7 p.m. April 19. Members of the public can access the meeting through the calendar on the Emmaus Borough website.