Bethlehem Town Council Approves Pension Valuation Change

The Bethlehem Town Council recently convened to discuss and vote on several financial measures that could impact the city’s budget and services. Among the most items was the request to change the valuation method used for determining the city’s obligation to the fire and police pension funds. The council approved the shift from the market valuation method to the smoothing method for the upcoming two years, a decision aimed at creating a more stable and manageable financial obligation for the municipality.

The shift to the smoothing method was deliberated thoroughly during the meeting. Council members considered the potential for an increase in the municipal obligation if the valuation method remained unchanged. Concerns were raised over the absence of collars or limits on the smoothing method and its impact on the target funding percentages for the pensions. The administration responded by clarifying that the smoothing method would provide a more even approach to budgeting and planning, as there were no specific collars on it. They confirmed that striving for nearly full funding of the pensions was beneficial and reassured that the method was standard practice to mitigate the effects of economic downturns.

Further discussions centered around the potential $2.3 million increase in the municipal obligation and the implications for the city’s budget and planning processes. The administration emphasized that the smoothing method would not adversely affect the pensions and would offer a better framework for budgeting purposes. They also mentioned that all their clients were transitioning to the smoothing method, highlighting a broad-based shift in response to the economic events of 2022.

In addition to pension-related matters, the meeting addressed other financial adjustments and proposals. The finance committee reviewed and unanimously recommended approval for general fund year-end budget adjustments, including reductions in the community recovery and homelessness initiative accounts. They also addressed a Northampton County public safety grant, which necessitated a city contribution of $10,000 towards the purchase of ballistic shields for the police force, with the understanding that the matching funds had already been incorporated into the budget.

Advertisement

The committee approved the reallocation of insurance funds for damaged street lights into the appropriate repair and replacement accounts. Moreover, they recommended approval for the allocation of remaining police DCED grant funds, initially intended for cameras at various intersections, and for the redistribution of excess stormwater fund dollars to the Future Capital needs account.

One notable financial topic involved proposed adjustments from the non-utility capital improvement fund year-end adjustments. The committee moved forward with these adjustments.

The meeting also broached the topic of recreation fees, particularly the proposed rates for the 2024 recreation season. The administration underscored the need for a rate review based on the last assessment in 2020 and labor shortages affecting pool operations in 2021. Discussions revealed that the current budget rate for lifeguards was $13 per hour, while neighboring towns like Allentown and Hanover were offering $18 per hour. The council contemplated increasing rates to remain competitive and address the rise in expenses. Members also discussed the affordability of pool rates for lower-income residents, exploring options such as subsidies or a sliding scale to ensure access to recreational amenities.

Advertisement

The removal of lessons from the party room at the skating rink was questioned, as well as the introduction of a new $25 rate for tennis and pickleball courts. The council’s support for maintaining affordable and accessible pools and recreational facilities for the community was evident. The administration confirmed their commitment to attracting lifeguards to keep all five pools operational. A motion to recommend approval of the administration’s request for rate increases was passed with a 3-0 vote.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
J. William Reynolds
City Council Officials:
Michael G. Colon, Grace Crampsie Smith, Brian G. Callahan, Hillary Kwiatek, Rachel Leon, Colleen S. Laird, Kiera Wilhelm

Receive debriefs about local meetings in your inbox weekly:

Trending meetings
across the country:

Meeting Date
Filter by bodytypes
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Airport Advisory Board
Art and Culture Board
Beach Committee
Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board of Elections
Board of Health
Borough Council
Building Committee
Cannabis Control Board
Cemetery Commission
Charter Revision Commission
Child and Family Services Board
City Council
City Identity Committee
Code Enforcement Board
College Board of Trustees
Community Appearance Board
Community Preservation Committee
Community Redevelopment Agency
County Council
Disability Advisory Committee
Economic Development Board
Elderly Affairs Board
Electric Advisory Board
Environmental Commission
Financial Oversight Board
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority
Human Relations Committee
Insurance Fund
Land Use Board
Library Board
Licensing Board
Mental Health Commission
Municipal Alliance
Open Space Commission
Oversight and Review Committee
Parking Authority
Parks and Gardens Commission
Parks Commission
Pension Board
Planning Board
Planning Board,Zoning Board
Police Review Board
Property Assessment Board
Public Safety Committee
Recreation Commission
Redevelopment Agency
Rent Leveling Board
School Board
Sewerage Authority
Shade Tree Commission
Special Magistrate
Taxation & Revenue Advisory Committee
Tourism Board
Trails Committee
Transportation Board
Utility Board
Value Adjustment Board
Veterans Committee
Water Control Board
Women's Advisory Committee
Youth Advisory Committee
Zoning Board
Filter by County
FL
Bay County
Bradford County
Brevard County
Broward County
Clay County
Duval County
Escambia County
Gulf County
Highlands County
Hillsborough County
Indian River County
Lake County
Lee County
Leon County
Levy County
Liberty County
Manatee County
Marion County
Martin County
Miami-Dade County
Monroe County
Okaloosa County
Orange County
Osceola County
Palm Beach County
Pasco County
Pinellas County
Polk County
Putnam County
Santa Rosa County
Sarasota County
Seminole County
St. Johns County
Taylor County
Volusia County
Walton County
MA
Barnstable County
Berkshire County
Bristol County
Essex County
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Plymouth County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
NJ
Atlantic County
Bergen County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Essex County
Gloucester County
Hudson County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Middlesex County
Monmouth County
Morris County
Ocean County
Passaic County
Somerset County
Sussex County
Union County
Warren County
Filter by sourcetypes
Minutes
Recording