City Council


2017 Annual Report

City Council adopted 56 Ordinances and 254 Resolutions, and conducted 22 Committee meetings.

Some of the Ordinances adopted by City Council include:

An Ordinance that amended Article 342 – LERTA that provided for the continuation of the south side LERTA and expanded boundaries on the south side of Bethlehem, and.

Council amended Article 342 – (LERTA) a second time this year and adopted a Resolution to expand the LERTA boundaries to provide a tax incentive for residents and commercial property owners in a designated area on the north side of Bethlehem.  The Northside 2027 Advisory Committee was established in conjunction with the Administration, to receive neighborhood improvement recommendations to invest in and revitalize several north Bethlehem neighborhoods that surround Thomas Jefferson and William Penn Elementary Schools. The unique partnership, involves the City of Bethlehem, Elected Officials, Bethlehem Area School District, Moravian College, businesses, and residents.  The Committee held its first meeting at Moravian College in October.

Revisions were made to Article 1161-Health Nuisances, to include provisions for the regulation of running bamboo.

The Members of Council adopted an Ordinance to established Article 104 - Requirements for Ethics Training for City Council Members.   The first training session will take place this year and will be provided by the State Ethics Commission.

An Ordinance was adopted to authorize the 2017 General Obligation Bond for the refunding of GO Bonds, and providing for the City Capital Improvement Projects, the Sewer improvement project, and Land Acquisition project.

Council also adopted an Ordinance to refinance the 2011 Guaranteed Lease Revenue Bond to realize an estimated savings of $700,000 over 2018 and 2019 and the City assets were conveyed from the Bethlehem Authority back to the City.

Council adopted an Ordinance to amend Article 117 – Officers and Employees to include restrictions on acceptance of gifts.

The Community Development Committee initiated discussions with the Administration to establish a Financial Incentive Reporting program for the various tax incentive programs.  An Ordinance to establish the program was introduced at the City Council Meeting tonight.

In the area of Planning and Zoning, City Council amended the Zoning Ordinance to include definitions and regulations for medical marijuana, and to clarify regulations pertaining to hospitals, behavioral health facilities and psychiatric facilities.

City Council adopted an Ordinance to Establish Article 1741-Short Term Lodging Facilities to provide registration and safety standards for owners and visitors of short term lodging facilities.

A Resolution to redefine the responsibilities of the Parks and Public Property Committee and the Public Works Committee as it relates to Rule 8 of the Rules of Council was adopted by City Council.

Resolutions were adopted to establish a Climate Action Working Group to build on the substantial progress made by Mayor Donchez, past administrations, and the City of Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council in combating climate change and promoting environmentally-sensitive City operations.   A Social Media Working Group was established to build on and sustain the significant progress made by the City in utilizing social media to communicate with City residents.  In addition, an Open Data Working Group was established to improve openness and transparency in government, and to promote more efficient use of taxpayer resources, good governance, and sustainable accountability for the benefit of all City residents

Council approved a Resolution to amend Section 106 of the Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax Regulations

Inter-municipal Liquor License transfers were authorized by Resolution for Turkey Hill, 1140 Hellertown Road and Giant Foods at 2174 West Union Boulevard.

A Resolution was adopted approving the rules and regulations for the City’s Civil service that were adopted by the Civil Service Board on October 3, 2017.

Resolutions in support of grant applications were approved for various grants,  such as a PennDOT TASA grant for the South Bethlehem corridor connections; Highway Safety Project Grants for the City’s DUI program and Community Traffic Safety project; DCED grant for the Monocacy Trail connections, to name a few.

Authorization was given for 23 Use Permit Agreements throughout the year for special events in the City. 

The adoption of the 2018 Budget was finalized at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, and set a real estate tax of 17.55 mills for City of Bethlehem residents of Northampton County and 5.55 mills for City of Bethlehem residents of Lehigh County, reflecting a 2.3% increase from the 2017 tax rate.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues for their time and cooperation in 2017.  I look forward to continue serving the Members of Council, the Administration, City employees, and the residents of the City of Bethlehem during 2018. 


J. William Reynolds
President of Council
January 2, 2018 City Council Meeting