A new year means a new beginning for the Emmaus Borough Council as a new president and vice president were chosen at the Jan. 4 meeting.
Lee Ann Gilbert, who has served the past six years as council president chose not to reprise her role as president.
Council voted 7-0 in favor of Councilman Brent Labenberg as new council president.
Wesley Barrett was nominated and approved 7-0 as vice president.
Emmaus Borough Council members voted 6-0 in favor of approving the budget for the 2016 fiscal year at the meeting held at council chambers Dec. 21. The budget is roughly $15 million.
Also passed was Ordinance 1134 which deals with taxes for the 2016 fiscal year. The residents of Emmaus will not have a tax increase.
It was noted by Borough Manager Shane Pepe, however, he received a sizable bill from the Lehigh County Authority Dec. 18. The bill, which is more than $117,000, is being presented to the borough for uncollected fees over a five-year period.
Good news for residents was announced at the Emmaus Borough Council meeting Dec. 7 – no tax increase.
Ordinance 1134 passed its first reading, which involves taxes for the fiscal year of 2016 in the borough. Tax rates will not change for residents and the distribution of taxes between the general fund and the fire fund will not change.
Council also voted to adopt the proposed budget for 2016.
Albert Eisenberg spoke at the Nov. 16 Emmaus Borough Council meeting as a representative of Pennsylvania Competes, which is an organization dedicated to “protecting hardworking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians from discrimination.”
“A gay man can be fired in the borough, or Lehigh County, because we don’t currently have existing protections for gays and transgender people in the state of Pennsylvania,” Eisenberg said.
The discussion of trick-or-treat night was one of the topics at the Emmaus Borough Council meeting Nov. 2.
Council received four letters from concerned residents expressing how “terrible” trick-or-treat night was this year.
“Apparently the town ran amok with trick-or-treaters,” Council President Lee Ann Gilbert said.
Resident Anthony Groller started a little scuffle with council when he once again complained about borough employees, specifically the public works department.
Groller, a senior citizen who regularly attends borough meetings, was questioning why there was an end of the year picnic held for employees in the middle of the week and not on a Saturday.
“Think about how much that costs the taxpayers, when those people [workers], they do nothing,” Groller said. “They didn’t have to do nothing (sic) for three hours.”
The Emmaus Borough Council unanimously voted to hire David Nelson, of Myrtle Beach, S. C., as the new director of emergency services.
The hire will be dependent on Nelson’s fingerprint check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Nelson will oversee both the ambulance and fire departments. This position will not include the oversight of the police department.
Emmaus Borough Manager Shane Pepe said council received 50 applications– 21 of the candidates were from Pennsylvania and 29 were from out-of-state. One candidate was from Nevada, the furthest point.
There was a heated debate between the Emmaus Borough Council and J. P. Mascaro and Son’s Director of Sales Sam Augustine, at the Oct. 6 council meeting.
Augustine came to the borough meeting to discuss recent fines the company had received and to answer any questions council members may have regarding the current trash pick-up. He gave a short speech on how he has been in the business for 33 years, how Mascaro saved the borough a lot of money and how other municipalities rave about Mascaro’s service.
Director of the Emmaus Public Library, Krista Pegnetter, spoke briefly to the Emmaus Borough Council at the Sept. 21 meeting.
Pegnetter said the library’s summer reading program was “phenomenally successful” this year, with 361 students signing up compared to last summer’s 87 students. Of these 361 students, 126 finished the entire summer which means they read at least 10 hours. The students attend 47 different schools.