Township Council Rescinds Vote That Asked for Gaming Authority's Abolition
Council vice president Tom Maxfield said the board received misinformation from its gaming authority representative, council member Priscilla deLeon.
In a reversal of the motion made at its previous meeting, Lower Saucon Township Council last week voted 4 to 0--with one abstention--not to write a letter requesting the abolition of the Northampton County Gaming Revenue and Economic Redevelopment Authority.
Council Vice President Tom Maxfield, who originally made the motion to write a letter requesting the abolition of the gaming authority, read a letter he wrote to council citing the reason for the change at the June 1 meeting.
Maxfield explained that he believes council was misinformed by the Lower Saucon Township gaming authority representative, council member Priscilla deLeon, about the grant application process.
In the letter Maxfield stated: “Subsequent information gathering, consisting of viewing Gaming Authority tapes, conversations with other GA Board members and their solicitor, and examining the application materials supplied by the GA, has revealed that the information provided to the Lower Saucon Council by Ms. deLeon was inaccurate and misrepresented the actual conditions of the application.”
Specifically, Maxfield said that after speaking with gaming authority solicitor Graham Simmons and gaming authority chairman Jay Finnigan, he found that grant applications can, in fact, be amended and that grants can be given to municipalities for land acquisition, both of which he said deLeon told council they could not do.
After Maxfield read his letter, deLeon maintained that she had done nothing wrong.
“I stand by what I have done,” she said.
After the meeting, deLeon explained that state law lists specifically what the grants can be used for and land acquisition is not on the list of uses.
“I have researched and am comfortable with the decisions I’ve made. I have based my decisions on the law and guidelines that have been established,” she said.
The source of this controversy stems from the May 4 council meeting, in which deLeon told council members that grant applications are not typically allowed to be amended and land acquisition is not what the grants are used for.
Township Manager Jack Cahalan sent a letter to the gaming authority prior to the May 4 meeting asking to amend Lower Saucon’s application for a grant for the Saucon Rail Trail. One of the amendments pertained to purchasing land the township hopes could provide access to the trail.
On May 25, the gaming authority announced that $10,492.50 has been awarded to Hellertown and Lower Saucon for rail trail expenses; $20,035 has been awarded to Hellertown and Lower Saucon for a Dewey Ambulance Life Stat; and $35,885.50 has been awarded to Hellertown and Lower Saucon for a Dewey Ambulance LifePac upgrade.