BEGINNING DECEMBER 1, 2020, COUNTY COUNCIL MEETINGS WILL BE HELD VIRTUALLY VIA THE ZOOM PLATFORM. The public will be able to participate by joining the meeting, or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The meetings will continue to be live streamed on YouTube.
On January 7, 2021, County Council held their first regular meeting of the year. At this meeting another union contract extension was voted into place for the Corrections personnel. Kathleen Wedge, former Deputy Director of Human Resources was appointed as Director of Human Resources, and there was a housekeeping change to Resolution 143-2020. Council also considered the expansion of hazard pay to the Gracedale employees who are willing to go an extra shift keeping the residents safe from COVID-19. Council will meet next on January 21, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
At the County Council reorganization meeting held on January 4, 2020, Ms. Lori Vargo Heffner was elected President and Mr. William B. McGee was elected Vice President. In addition, Mr. Christopher Spadoni was elected to remain as Council Solicitor.
Council met for the final time in 2020 on December 17. A public hearing was held with regard to a lease of office space for a Magistrate District Justice in Easton on Butler Street. Additionally, an incentive fund was created to encourage Gracedale staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible to protect both staff and the residents. This incentive would be paid out of CARES funds as a qualifying use.
Council wishes all a safe, happy and healthy holiday season to all.
On December 10, 2020, County Council held a regular meeting via Zoom. The Minutes of Council Meetings and Budget Hearings were approved, and all approved Minutes can be found on the County website. Additional Appointments were made to the General Purpose Authority, one of our Authorities, Board and Commissions. A resolution was passed to ensure a quick turnaround on a final group of small businesses applying for grant money under the CARES Act. Further, County Council used Contingency funds for donations to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare, Habitat for Humanity Lehigh Valley (to be distributed as a grant through DCED), and the Saucon Valley Community Center. The final meeting of 2020 will occur on December 17 at 4:30pm.
On December 3, 2020, County Council held a regular meeting via Zoom. Additional appointments were made to the Authorities, Boards and Commissions of Northampton County. The final actions were taken to pass the 2021 Budget and Capital Improvements Plan, which did not require the increase of taxes. The requested position additions, eliminations, and upgrades were approved across many County departments. The 2021 Salary Resolution was adopted, along with a few amendments, none of which significantly impacted the budget proposal. An ordinance for a District Court lease at 1710 Northampton Street in Easton was introduced, with a public hearing to take place at a meeting on December 17, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. A donation of materials and labor was accepted to allow a wall monument to be installed honoring the Veterans Affairs Department and those who have served in the war against terrorism, courtesy of Post 611 of the American Legion and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the State Guard Association of the United States. The 2021 County Council meeting schedule was approved. Reorganization will occur on Monday, January 4, 2021 in the Council meeting room at 4:30 p.m. The first regular meeting will be January 7, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. After that, meetings will regularly take place the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The exception is in December, where Council will be meeting on the first and second Thursday of the month, and not on the third Thursday.
Council will meet again on Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.
On November 19, 2020, County Council held their regular meeting. Multiple applicants were appointed and re-appointed to some of the authorities, boards and commissions of Northampton County; you can click here to find out all the various entities you can volunteer for. A Proclamation was issued to the Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity, which was recently awarded the 2020 Library of the Year by the Pennsylvania Library Association. A public hearing was held regarding the regular budget amendment, and the ordinance was passed and signed by the Executive on November 23, 2020. An ordinance regarding the Tax Millage Rate was introduced, with no increase in tax amount from last year. Public hearings were held on the proposed budget, as well as the proposed capital improvements plan for 2021. Personnel requests were approved for Gracedale and the Public Defender's office. Council accepted the terms of the extended contract with AFSCME District Council 88, Local 1265; and a new Memorandum of Understanding has been accepted between the County and the County Conservation District, which was in dire need of an update. Council approved a grant from the Monroe County Local Share Account to purchase a mobile x-ray unit at the new Forensic Center, approved CARES Act grant money to the United Way for their #MASKUPLV campaign for continued mask awareness, approved another round of grants to assist small businesses, and set aside money for the County to purchase a variety of mechanisms including robots that can add additional disinfection to County buildings using Ultra Violet light. Council approved software upgrades for their staff, and approved three Administrative Code Article XIII contracts with APCO International (Protocal Guidecard System for EMS), Next Level Administrators (Workers Compensation Claim Services), and Remedi Senior Care (Pharmacy Services for Gracedale).
Council's next meeting will be a budget hearing on December 1, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. They will meet on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. for the Capital Projects Committee meeting and at 6:30 p.m. for the general County Council meeting.
On November 5, 2020, County Council was presented with a presentation from the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority along with regular business. A public hearing was held on the ordinance accepting a land donation from Ned and Linda Heindel, with the tract coming under control of the Parks Department, to be named Hexenkopf Ridge Park. Another public hearing was held with relation to a sale of real property from St. Anthony of Padua Parish, also to be preserved and moved under the care of the Parks Department. Council adopted a Budget Amendment, and accepted an anonymous gift to Gracedale in the amount of $100,000. Council also passed a resolution requesting the County Controller perform an audit on the Sands/Wind Creek Casino to ensure the capture of all appropriate hotel room and rental task. A third round of municipal grants, paid from the COVID-19 Block Grant funds, was approved, and the Community Investment Partnership Program (CIPP) grant with ArtsQuest was modified for an extension.
Council's next budget hearing is on November 10, 2020; the next regular meeting is on November 19, 2020.
On Friday, October 23, 2020, several Council Members along with other local luminaries were on hand for the dedication and ribbon cutting of the new Forensic Center. Approved in November of 2018, ground breaking was in September of 2019, and the project is now complete at a cost of $11 million (which is under budget). The new Center will allow our Coroner ample facilities rather than have he and his staff travel to local hospitals to conduct their important work. The new facility includes autopsy rooms with viewing areas for law enforcement as well as medical students, a digital forensic lab, and offices for the staff. Significantly, it now includes a private reception room for family members to meet to view their loved ones. The roof is outfitted with solar panels. The project was only delayed a few days during the pandemic, until construction could be reviewed and allowed to continue.
At the October 15, 2020 meeting, County Council Introduced two ordinances, one regarding a donation of land, the other about a land purchase. In the former, Ned and Linda Heindel generously agreed to donate 76.76 acres of land to be preserved as Hexenkopf Ridge Preserve under the Northampton County Parks and Recreation department. This gift includes land containing the famous "Hexenkopf Hill," known the world around for its mysterious nature and appearance. Embedded with flakes of mica, the rock mirrors the glow of the moon, causing it to appear otherworldly. The rock risesup is on an outcropping of South Mountain, and the surrounding parcels will now be preserved for generations to come. Council additionally agreed to buy over 91 acres to preserve as farmland and open space. Both public hearings will occur at the November 5, 2020 meeting. Additionally, Council voted to allow the land acquisition for the larger parcel to move forward without added appraisals on the land; allowed a request from Williams Township to accept their withdrawal from the Nehoda Conservation Easement; and approved the court-ordered 2021 Court Cost fee schedule. Additionally, the Council approved the consideration of a General Purpose Authority/Lehigh Valley Health Network agreement; accepted donations of cash for Gracedale Christmas presents and apples for Gracedale Employees, as well as riparian buffer trees from the Penn State Extension and Monocacy Creek Watershed Association; and approved Article XIII Administrative Code Contracts from Vision Technologies (new software interface for virtual meetings), Grace Industries (Phase II Nor-Bath Trail), and Reinvestment Fund (employee health benefits).
Council will meet next on November 5, 2020. The next Budget Hearings are on October 21 (Court Systems, Court Administration, Corrections) and October 28 (Human Services and DCED), both of which will start at 4:30 p.m.
At the October 1, 2020 meeting, County Council untabled the ordinance related to easements over Louise Moore Park. Council voted to repeal the original ordinance granting that access, in order to control any construction or damage to the park. Council also considered another round of COVID-19 relief grants, this time a second round to municipalities, funding to assist with eviction mediation, to higher education institutions in the County, and to more small businesses. All of the grant recipients had to demonstrate need and a connection to losses from the pandemic to the County and our Department of Community and Economic Development. Additionally, hazard pay has been reintroduced for our front line medical personnel. Council continues to support our local businesses and community groups, and will continue to move to expediently give the assistance that is so desperately needed right now.
Council will meet next on October 15, 2020 for the regular meeting. The first Budget Hearing will be on October 7, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.
At the September 17, 2020 meeting, County Council held public hearings and adopted two ordinances dealing with property leases for Magisterial Districts in Wind Gap and Bethlehem. Council also approved temporary workers to assist the elections office, who are readying for an unprecedented desire for voting by mail or in person prior to election day. Council also accepted a gift from CONCEPTSAD of three custom logo facemasks per employee in the Department of Corrections. After receiving prior presentations and discussing the use of CARES Act fund to help the community recover from the pandemic, County Council voted unanimously to approve funding to the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University, the Entrepreneurship Program with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and a risk management and business recovery awareness training through Northampton Community College. All of these grants will go further to help small businesses in the County make it through these difficult times, and also to plan now for unforseen events, such as a second wave of COVID-19. Council also voted to utilize grant money from the CARES Act to offset the costs incurred while the County paid Hazard Pay to the employees on the front lines, who worked every day knowing they would be potentially exposed to this deadly virus. It will also help recoup expenses incurred by Information Services, who within a matter of days had set up hundreds of workers in at-home settings to help slow the growth of the pandemic in the spring. Finally, Council heard from BSI Corporate Partners, who broker health care services, and were able to go into deep detail on their bargaining process and how they bring the best possible value to the County in our health care plans.
Council will meet again on October 1, 2020.
At the September 3, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council adopted three ordinances and tabled a fourth. The first ordinance was an amendment to Ordinance 648-2018, dealing with the procedures and requirements for contractors and subcontractors in order to ensure the County's contractors and subcontractors are reliable to provide the best service and product. The second was a budget amendment. The third approved the lease with Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, in order to ensure Minsi Lake is freely accessible for residents of Northampton County for decades to come. The ordinance to repeal Ordinance 617-2017 was tabled. Two ordinances were introduced, each dealing with a lease of real property on behalf of District Magistrates, one in Wind Gap and one in Bethlehem. A discussion was held regarding Northampton County Council's desire to make a firm statement that discrimination in any form is not tolerated, and a resolution was passed reflecting the official policy of the County and County Council, that the human rights and equal rights due to all in the County are respected and inviolate. Further Resolutions were passed, both dealing with CARES Act (dealing with negative impact of COVID-19) grant money; one for the distribution of grants to municipalities, and a second round of grants for small businesses in the County.
Council will meet again on September 17, 2020.
At the August 20, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council adopted two ordinances. One would put a question on the May 2021 primary ballot adding language to the Job Discrimination section of the Home Rule Charter to be aligned with recent Supreme Court decisions. The other focused on a land taking in an Agricultural Conservation Easement. Counicl introduced four ordinances for public hearing to be held on September 3, 2020. Those ordinances include a budget amendment, extending the lease with PA Fish and Boat Commission for Minsi Lake, repealing ordinance 617-2017 (dealing with the conveyance of easements for use of Easton Suburban Water Authority), and the amendment of ordinance 648-2018 (procedures related to solicitation and award of public contracts). Additionally, Council passed resolutions regarding additional caseworkers and staff for Children Youth and Families; waived the appraisal for the Minsi Lake lease; updated the Coroner's fee schedule; passed a resoluition aimed at forming an advisory board to study ways to combat the difficulties of living with karst geology, such as sinkholes and creek dewatering; and a resolution paving the way for the Area Agency on Aging to accept donated meals for seniors.
Council will meet again on September 3, 2020 at 6:30pm.
At the July 16, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council introduced two ordinances. One would amend the Home Rule Charter to change the title of Council Member to Commissioner; the other covered a Budget Amendment to allow the County to receive and utilize the grant opportunities offered in response to COVID-19. Additionally, grant money was approved to extend broadband and wireless access for students at all County School Districts, as well as to aid seniors and veterans. Council also voted to provide grant money to sustain a continuing COVID-19 testing site for all Northampton County residents with symptoms, as well as to fund aggressive testing to ensure COVID-19 is kept out of Northampton County Prison. Council made another financial decision to accept additional grant money, working with HUD in order to assist with housing needs of the thousands of County residents impacted by COVID-19. Another resolution allowed the County to obtain grant money in order to remediate the Glendon Hotel property. Seven different Livable Landscape projects were given funds that will be matched to conserve land, construct parks, and improve trails and parks throughout Northampton County, including Albert Ponds in Bushkill Township, the Two Rivers Trailway Trail in the City of Easton, Dimmick Park in Hellertown, Surrey Glen Park in Lower Nazareth Township, the D&L Trail in Northampton and North Catasaqua, and Penn Pump Park in Palmer Township.
Council will meet again on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.
At the July 2, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council voted to adopt an ordinance to correct a line item in the Amended Budget. Additionally, an ordinance was introduced to edit the Home Rule Charter, Section 807, regarding job discrimination. Additionally, a resolution reaffirming the County's dedication to equality and equal rights was passed. Grants from the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant were awarded to multiple bi-county organizations, including Discover Lehigh Valley ($500,000), Lehigh and Northampton Airport Authority ($250,000), ArtsQuest ($500,000), Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation ($175,000) and the State Theatre ($100,000). Council will select three members to serve on a committee, to work with the Department of Fiscal Affairs and the Department of Economic Development, among others, to ensure the remainder of CARES Act funding is properly distributed in a timely manner.
Council will meet again on July 16, 2020, to hold a public hearing on the introduced ordinance, as well as any other business pending.
At the June 18, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council introduced an ordinance to correct a line item in the Amended Budget. They approved appointments to the Children, Youth and Families Advisory Board, the Farmland Preservation Board, the Industrial Development Authority, the Mental Health, Early Intervention and Developmental Programs Advisory Board, and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley. Two resolutions were unanimously passed to seek and secure funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Resolution 50--2020 to apply for rent relief programs under the CARES Act, and 51-2020, to seek funding through the COVID-19 Relief County Relief Block Grant. Council further approved additions to Article XIII contract applicants working to finish the Forensic Center, and to begin work on the Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway Stewardship Plan.
Council will meet again on July 2, 2020, to hold a public hearing on the introduced ordinance, as well as any other business pending.
Notice is hereby given that the
following Northampton County Council Committees will be meeting in the County
Council meeting room, room No. 3116, third floor, Northampton County Government
Center, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA, on the dates and times indicated
June 4, 2020, commencing at 3:30 p.m., the Human Services Committee will
convene a meeting to receive a report from the Director of Human Services, as
well as to consider any other pending business.
June 4, 2020, commencing at 5:00 p.m., the Governance Committee will convene a
meeting to discuss the Declaration of Disaster Emergency, as well as to
consider any other pending business.