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North Catty officials move closer to tax hike

During the Nov. 20 meeting, North Catasauqua Borough Council approved to advertise the 2024 tax rate. Council discussed the new millage rate of 16.5% during the previous meeting, which was a 1.5% increase from the year before.

The new tax rate will be put forth once council approves the 2024 budget at its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 4.

Council also approved advertising the 2024 borough meeting dates and for heavy equipment bids. Council will continue to meet regularly on the first and third Mondays of the month beginning 7 p.m.

During the office report, council discussed several sewer relief requests from residents. New owners of the Willowbrook homes have been asked by the developer to water the grass for six hours per day, which has caused a major spike in the sewer bill. Since the water is not being deposited into the sewer and instead absorbed by the grass, council agreed to reduce the bills to the average monthly amount.

Residents outside of Willowbrook have also recently experienced a hot water and bathroom leak, resulting in spiked sewer bills. Since the water did not travel down the sewer system, council also agreed to reduce residents’ monthly bills back to the previous average amounts.

The sewer relief matters are regularly handled by borough Secretary Tasha Jandrisovits and Treasurer Annette Englert in office but must have a motion made by council to provide relief. Jandrisovits requested these matters be handled directly in office instead of having to present the matter to council first in order to rectify the situation sooner for residents.

Council agreed Jandrisovits and Englert have a nice system worked out for sewer relief matters and should be handled directly by the office. President Peter Paone requested a formal vote be made during the next meeting in order to develop a standard operating procedure.

In other news, there has been a billing issue with the borough’s October bills sent to residents. The vendor who handles billing pulled amounts from October 2022 instead of 2023. This has since been corrected, but the borough has conducted an audit of all accounts and adjusted the bill to the correct amount if the customer had not yet paid.

A credit was also placed on residents’ accounts who did pay their bills and overpaid for the 2023 invoice. If a resident was underpaid due to the wrong invoice, the borough did not adjust those accounts to request additional funds. All accounts will be documented, and records will be kept for future audit purposes. If more information is needed regarding a bill from North Catasauqua, contact the office.

In other news, Stephanie J. Steward, from Goudsouzian and Associates, has joined council to assist Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian. The role had previously been filled by Brian Panella, but a recent election has moved Panella to the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas bench to serve as the county’s next judge.

Steward obtained her Juris Doctorate in 2007 from Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. Her previous work includes time served as a judicial law clerk in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, and some of her areas of focus include general litigation, criminal defense and personal injury.

During his report, Paone discussed the water main break that occurred Nov. 12 between Third and Eugene streets. North Catasauqua Fire Chief Roger Scheirer and Paone were on the scene and described two breaks that caused the cleanup to last longer than anticipated.

Members of Northampton Borough Municipal Authority placed a temporary hot patch that was used to seal the breaks. This will suffice for the winter months, and in about six months or in the spring season, the temporary patch will be torn out and replaced with a permanent patch.

In recreation news, the betterment committee will be sponsoring a trolley ride 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8 at North Catasauqua William J. Albert Memorial Park, 701 Grove St. The trolley will ride around local neighborhoods to view holiday lights, but a set route has not yet been determined. The trolley will fit about 15 people per ride and is first come, first served. Organizers will also be accepting nonperishable food donations for the local food bank.

Council will next meet 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at borough hall, 1066 Fourth St., in the basement-level meeting room. To view the agenda ahead of time, visit northcatasauqua.org/news.