MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
OF THE BETHLEHEM AUTHORITY
June 14, 2012
The regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Authority (Authority)
was held on June 14, 2012 in Conference Room B-504, 10 E. Church Street, Bethlehem,
PA and called to order at 3:30 PM by Chairman John Tallarico. The following were also in
• Mr. Vaughn Gower, Vice Chairman
• Mr. Richard Master, Secretary
• Mr. Mark Jobes, Treasurer
• Mr. James Broughal, Solicitor
• Mr. John Filipos, Controller
• Mr. Stephen Repasch, Executive Director
• Ms. Sandra Reppert, Administrative Assistant
• Mr. Daniel Meixell, Special Police Officer
APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF MAY 10, 2012
J. Tallarico presented the minutes of the regular meeting held May 10, 2012.
J. Tallarico moved and V. Gower seconded to approve those minutes. Motion passed
RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
J. Tallarico welcomed the following visitors:
• Mr. Stephen Antalics, Bethlehem citizen
• Mr. Bud Cook, The Nature Conservancy
• Mr. David McGuire, Lehigh Valley Sierra Club
• Mr. David Brong, City of Bethlehem Director of Water and Sewer Resources
• Mr. Pete Sussenbach, PA Game Commission
• Mr. Gene Auman, City of Bethlehem Deputy Controller
COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
There were no comments at this time.
Wind Energy Project. J. Tallarico reported that after a short period of preliminary
discussions, enXco politely communicated they are no longer interested in moving
forward with a wind energy project. However, Iberdrola Renewables, which
reorganized its management staff in Pennsylvania, is very interested in pursuing
discussions again with the Authority.
It is noted that City Council President Eric Evans entered the meeting at 3:38 PM.
It might be difficult to find a developer who is interested in a project on Authority
property. It is very costly to do the wind studies and until those are done, the feasibility
of a project is unknown. The processes and regulations with the many agencies involved
The Board unanimously decided to discuss this matter in Executive Session at the end of
the meeting to review Iberdrola’s initial proposals and develop parameters for engaging
in discussions with them.
Forest Management Plan. J. Tallarico reported that the Forest Management Plan (FMP)
will be complete by the July meeting. He praised everyone involved for their hard work.
July’s meeting will be held in Town Hall for a special announcement about the FMP.
S. Repasch showed slides of a group of youths from Americorp (18 to 20 year-old inner-
city youths of different ethnic backgrounds from all over the country) who have been
working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) counting and measuring the coarse woody
debris on the forest floor, which adds to the amount of carbon. Blue Source will be
verifying the carbon and all relevant aspects the FMP in August.
Habitat Restoration. The prescribed burn on two (of the four) units approved by the
Board conducted this past Monday in Long Pond was successful. There were 25 people
on the fire team along with some spotters on I-80. DCNR and DEP were there as well.
Several roads will be regraded with stone and the burn areas will be green in a couple of
months. S. Repasch showed slides of the area before, during and after the burn. The
other two units are scheduled to be burned June 15. The Authority initially agreed to
allow burning on 177 acres of property, and agreed to an indemnification agreement
with TNC through December 31, 2012. However, the 177 acres are part of a larger
restoration project that the PGC has for the property and it needs to be accelerated.
Mr. Pete Sussenbach explained to the Board that he originally had until September 2013
to allocate ~$3 million in grant funds. Now the funds need to be allocated by
September 2012 and expended within the next fiscal year. He referred to a map that
showed all 10 areas identified in the PGC’s project. Students from IUP helped develop a
plan for approximately 700 additional acres of barrens and scrub oak to be restored. S.
Repasch added the Authority’s Consulting Engineer initially reviewed the entire plan and
indicated there would be no impact on water quality. The Authority’s Forester wrote an
opinion letter and summarized:
“The FSC plan incorporates prescribed fire as a tool in these high conservation value
areas. The supplemental burn blocks as submitted are compatible with the rest of the
FSC plan, or could be made so with some additional minor adjustments.”
R. Master moved and V. Gower seconded to approve the habitat restoration plan for
approximately 700 additional acres in Long Pond as presented and to approve extending
the indemnification agreement with TNC to December 31, 2013.
Property Easement. S. Repasch reported that there have been discussions again with
the owner’s of the Smith property on Long Pond Road for an easement agreement to
access timber stands for harvesting. This property is an abandoned ATV track. The
terms being negotiated will be discussed in Executive Session.
Operating Authority. S. Repasch reported that he and Dave Brong met with ARCADIS a
few weeks ago. A conference call with other ARCADIS reps to discuss more operational
issues and areas to gain efficiencies is being scheduled. A plan about the financial
impact on the City and the Authority is anticipated by August.
COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
At this time, J. Tallarico extended Courtesy of the Floor to Mr. David McGuire, who
requested to address the Board prior to his departing the meeting. Mr. McGuire said
this is the last Authority meeting he will be attending as the Sierra Club’s representative,
and his successor will be Vicky Bastidas. He has been attending the Authority’s
meetings for 12 years and what people see now is “dirt turned into diamonds” in the
sense of government doing what it’s supposed to do. He spoke about the events of the
past – from timbering the watershed valued at millions of dollars to realizing the
watershed is a tremendous resource that protects the City’s water supply. With regard
to the finances between the City and the Authority, as a citizen, he felt there was a shell
game being played. Several Authority Board members worked hard and succeeded to
get a rationale of the finances. The Board members present today and past members
Ron Donchez and Dave DiGiacinto put forth a lot of effort behind the scenes and
religiously attended or called in to the meetings if out of town. They have taken their
obligation seriously and he appreciates it. He asked the Board to try to fill a vacancy if
it’s really vacant, even though there is an appointee. R. Master responded there are five
members, and Ms. Burtner is involved and doing a great job. J. Tallarico added
sometimes personal matters cannot be avoided. Mr. McGuire said if the Board is
satisfied, he will say nothing more.
Mr. McGuire conveyed his appreciation to S. Repasch and S. Reppert, who have been
very professional and helpful. Anything he’s ever asked for, if available, has been
provided. Things were never negated or put off the way they had been in the past. He
commended them for doing a great job. He also commended Council President Evans
for Council’s good work along with the Authority and hopes it continues. He thanked
everyone for their service, and wished all good luck.
J. Tallarico thanked Mr. McGuire for his comments.
PUC Territory Expansion (East Allen Township). S. Repasch reported pre-hearing
motions will be filed with the PUC judge on June 15. The Bath Borough Authority will be
served with the pre-hearing motions as well. The City’s PUC attorney submitted
tentative PUC hearing dates of August 7 and 8. He, along with City personnel and East
Allen Township representatives, will be available for the hearing. With regard to the
lawsuit, J. Broughal said they’re waiting for a decision from the court on the preliminary
2nd Quarter Income and Expense Projection. S. Repasch reported the following:
• Cash on Hand, April 1 – $490,705
• Projected Revenues Receivable for the 2nd Quarter – $87,635
• Total Projected Professional, Administrative and Police Expenses for the 2nd Quarter
• Total Projected Cash on Hand at the end of the 2nd Quarter – $467,985
Expense Budget Comparative. S. Repasch reported the following amounts for the five
months ended May 31, 2012:
• Professional Services – 32% of budget.
• Operating Reserves – 35% of budget.
• Security and Property – 16% of budget.
• Administrative Expenses – 37% of budget.
• Overall Expenses -- 33% of budget, and tracking below linear.
J. Filipos’ report for the month ended May 31, 2012 was circulated and filed. He pointed
out the following:
• The debt service payments due May 15 totaling ~$1.3 million were made.
• The coverage payment totaling ~$64,000 was received and flowed to the BRIF.
• The increase in the Landfill debt service fund was due to the City sending in the
money for the interest payment due June 1.
Resolution 340. J. Tallarico presented Resolution 340 to the Board for approval. The
resolution totals $31,889.41 and consists of the following:
• Requisition 327 – H2OPA Grant Projects’ Expenses in the amount of $1,333.80
• Professional and Administrative Expenses in the amount of $30,555.61
R. Master moved and V. Gower seconded to approve Resolution 340. Motion passed
No report. S. Repasch said the inspections for the annual report will begin near the end
SPECIAL POLICE OFFICER
D. Meixell’s report for the month of June 2012 was circulated and filed.
CITY OF BETHLEHEM DIRECTOR OF WATER AND SEWER RESOURCES
D. Brong reported the following on the Water Fund as of May 2012:
• ~$1.7 million invoiced in May and ~$7.6 million invoiced year-to-date, which is
~$500,000 more than same period last year
• ~$1.5 million cash on hand and ~$500,000 more than same period last year. The
impact of the rate increase is evident.
He told the Board there have been rumors amongst the City workers about transitioning
to an operating authority. During recent contract negotiations, there was sentiment to
perhaps negotiate language about such a transition, which is premature at this point. He
said the operating authority has been openly discussed for the past eight years, ever
since the strategic plan. The best way to handle this is to provide the facts and be
forthcoming. He wants them to know about the compelling financial event the City is
faced with in 2014.
The Board said to inform the workers it is aware of the anxieties that the prospect of
change creates, and transitioning to an operating authority is one option being studied.
It wants to have a good relationship with the employees of the system.
COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Mr. Stephen Antalics queried if there are structures on the Authority’s property that
involve lights for aviation. Response was the Bethlehem Star on South Mountain and
the water tanks. He asked because of a report that stated there is a 50% drop in the
deaths of migrating birds when blinking lights are used versus lights that are continually
on. Blinking lights also attract the attention of pilots. He commented about the
timbering plan envisioned 12 years ago and how the Authority’s forester at that time
(Art Brooks) discovered the timber wasn’t there. He also commented that when
members of any Board are absent, it can become a major problem if there aren’t
enough votes for the passage of resolutions. When a person runs for an office or accepts
a position, they should take responsibility for what they’re supposed to do. There are a
number of people who regularly attend City Council meetings who look upon mayoral
appointments with great suspicion and skepticism. He said Mr. Gower was the
alternative recommendation to an appointment that wasn’t accepted. He is really
impressed with Mr. Gower and what he has done for the Authority. The members sitting
at this table have occupational or other responsibilities outside of the Authority and are
present with consistency. Attendance should be demanded of all the members.
R. Master responded that there is a lot of work done outside of the meetings by all the
members, and if reference is to Ms. Burtner, she is an excellent Board member who has
spent a lot of time in the watershed, and participates in and provides a unique
perspective on numerous projects. Some of what is being said is from being somewhat
uninformed. It is natural for a Board to protect its members from this kind of discussion.
J. Tallarico added there is not one Board member who does not go to extremes at times
to be at meetings, and likewise for Ms. Burtner. Sometimes personal matters take
precedence. The Board is very satisfied with its members. Mr. Antalics said from his
point of view as a citizen, he expects consistency and it’s nothing personal. He’s
speaking quantitatively, not qualitatively.
Mr. Bud Cook said he has been attending and observing Authority meetings for 20-plus
years. He’s had the privilege of observing the evolution of the Board from one that did
little or nothing – maybe because it didn’t have to, or because times were simpler, or
because problems that should have been dealt with weren’t and became bigger – to a
Board that has the capacity and the will to meet the challenges of the water system. It
has been very gratifying to him to see this evolution.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 12, 2012 and will be held in Town Hall
The Board’s Executive Session commenced at 4:50 PM and adjourned at 5:18 PM. A
license agreement to use part of the Smith property to access timber stands for
timbering and peripheral activities related to forest management will be presented for
final approval and execution. Also, the Board decided to ask Iberdrola for a new
proposal and financial terms for a wind development project. If the new terms are
better than the previous terms submitted, they are willing to have discussions.
J. Tallarico moved and M. Jobes seconded to adjourn the meeting. Motion passed
unanimously and the meeting adjourned at 5:20 PM.
Richard L. Master, Secretary