This is my blog about State & Local Government, including my hometown Lower Macungie! In January 2014 I was sworn in for a 4 year term as township Commissioner. I am humbled and grateful for the support of Lower Macungie Residents. We prevailed in the 2013 election running a grassroots campaign that focused on quality of life and fiscal sustainability through smart growth. The election was a referendum on the unpopular development decisions and “dumb growth” policies of prior boards. 

As a lifelong resident of Lower Mac and a local small business owner I am proud to currently serve as Lower Macungie Township Commissioner and excited for our campaign for State Rep. This is blog serves as a record of 3 years of advocating for A Better Way to Grow. The opinions here represent my own and not the townships. Please browse the site. I also welcome questions and comments always. Feel free to email me at Ronbeitler@gmail.com

Over the last few years Lower Macungie Twp:

  • We successfully reduced property tax bills for homeowners using the homestead program. As it stands Lower Macungie’s property tax is the lowest of any suburban community in the entire Lehigh Valley.
  • We have preserved nearly 300 more acres of open space and farmland over the last 3 years.
  • We’ve become the most transparent local government in the Lehigh Valley.

On December 11th 2017 I announced my candidacy for State Representative. While we accomplished much, there is still work to do. I’m proud of our accomplishments in Lower Mac and I think I can do some good in Harrisburg.

Ron Beitler
Lower Macungie Commissioner serving a 4 year term
Running for State Representative in 2018

Want to keep taxes low? Preserve Open Space.


Large contiguous tract of farmland in Lower Macungie Township

(Submitted as LTE to LMT Patch and an abbreviated version to EPP)

Preserving open space with a smart growth plan reduces costs for infrastructure and services, therefore over the long term reducing the need for tax increases. Farmland and open space generate no traffic, create no crime, needs little fire protection and places no new students into our school system.

Continue reading

When Will States Run Out of Federal CHIP Funds?

Working families ought to be able to afford insurance on the private markets. Today, unfortunately many can’t. Enter CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

What is CHIP?
CHIP is short for the Children’s Health Insurance Program – Pennsylvania’s program to provide health insurance to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for Medical Assistance. CHIP covers kids whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private insurance. This is increasingly a problem as healthcare costs continue to rise under Obamacare. 

How does CHIP funding work?
CHIP is a block grant program. This means Congress must act periodically to extend funding for the program. It serves nearly 9 million kids each year. States receive an allotment based on projected expenditures and generally have two years to spend their allotment. Unspent funds go into a redistribution pool.

When will CHIP run out of funds? 

  • Funding for CHIP expired on September 30, 2017. PA was able to continue to operate our programs in the short term with leftover funds from 2017.
  • Just before the December recess, Congress approved $2.85 billion in CHIP funding in a  “patch” as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires January 19. The CR also changed the way that redistribution funds are awarded to states, no longer guaranteeing a specific share to any state.
  • If Congress fails to approve long-term funding for CHIP in January, 1.7 million children in separate CHIP programs in 21 states could lose coverage by the end of February 2018. As February 1 approaches and Congress has still not taken action, some states are likely to send notices to families alerting them that their child’s coverage is in jeopardy and may begin procedures to freeze enrollment.
  • In March, Pennsylvania will be in shortfall position. Without sufficient funding to cover March expenditures, we will be unable to cover children beyond February without accessing redistribution funds.

Someday I would love nothing more than for CHIP to exist as a rarely used safety net no longer needed in the widespread numbers it is today. Meaning, today with healthcare so un-affordable for large segments of working class families not eligible for medicaid who still can’t afford private coverage – the need unfortunately remains. This is a failure of the healthcare system in general. The goal ought to be getting working families OFF assistance simply because they no longer need it. We accomplish that by making healthcare premiums affordable. That’s the long term fix.

But in the immediate term, with this not being reality – CHIP remains an absolutely crucial tool for working families. Parents across the state (many I know personally) literally now scrambling. The uncertainty is hugely disruptive. This has to get addressed.

Congress must act now. Continued delay is unacceptable. We need a bi-partisan solution to this and we need it right now. There is no excuse. Partisan bickering equals uncertainty for 1000’s of Pennsylvania families surrounding their children’s health resulting potentially in higher health care costs, added financial burdens, and in some cases – a complete loss of coverage for their children.

Important Tax Bill Information – Are you enrolled in Homestead?


Lower Macungie Homeowners – Are you enrolled in Homestead? It’s a program the board enacted to further reduce your property taxes. The chart below shows your savings. The green column is the amount of your bill after homestead savings.
(*Note, school property tax bills are separate and set by the School Board)

Morning Call: Lower Mac Commissioners give homeowners tax break

Recently, Homestead and Farmstead exclusion applications have been mailed out to eligible households by Lehigh County who are NOT already enrolled.

Once again, the township has set the homestead rate to the maximum allowed by the state. Eligible homeowners deduct the median home value from the assessment used to calculate their property tax bill.

This year that increased to 121,200 since home values increased in the township. This means 1,329 Lower Mac homes assessed under that amount are eligible for full relief. All others get a reduced bill. The chart below shows your savings. Lower Mac has the lowest Township property tax of any suburban Lehigh County community.

Properties eligible for exclusion include primary owner occupied homes. To receive the discount you must be enrolled. Applications are due March 1st. You can check your enrollment status by calling the County at 610.782.3038.

Information on if your home qualifies here.

Chart above shows your homestead savings. The Green column is your bill after homestead.










Interested in the 2018 township budget? Click here: 
The adopted 2018 budget – A snapshot








Commonwealth Court finds no ‘judicially manageable’ standards in Pennsylvania redistricting case

Commonwealth Court finds no ‘judicially manageable’ standards in Pennsylvania redistricting case.

Couple things here:

First, I support the initiatives of Fair Districts PA to address our severe gerrymandering problem. They propose appointing an impartial and independent citizens commission to direct redistricting — as opposed to what happens today, which is career politicians drawing their own district lines. I’ve written about the issue numerous times on this blog.

As a Commissioner, Lower Macungie unanimously adopted a resolution urging elected state officials to support independent commission legislation.

That being said – I don’t believe the solution to this is a judicial one. Though I don’t fault advocates for pursuing it, it’s not the end game.

Gerrymandering is a political problem with a political solution. In other words, we need elected officials to CHANGE the (bad) law(s). The Judge here made the right decision based on the state Constitution, current law and (bad) policies. A Judge is tasked with rendering a decision based on the current law, not personal opinions. Whether they believe a law or consequences of a law are right or wrong is irrelevant. In the decision, while the Judge here made his personal opinion known – he can’t let that influence answering the legal question. Read opinion here.

Clearly, the policies and law are flawed. Gerrymandering needs addressed, but not by an activist court. We need change in the halls of the State legislature. (State legislatures control the redistricting processes).

So, the work continues to address our severe problem we have in Pennsylvania. We do this by changing the problematic state law(s) and systems that undermine democratic elections. To that end, we need elected officials willing to take a stand. As a candidate for the State House I support legislation to establish an independent non-partisan commission and would serve as a co-sponsor AND vocal advocate to that end.

#SlaytheGerrymanderer – We will get there, but as a good government advocate it matters to me HOW we get there. Don’t rely on activist court, change the bad law. 


The adopted 2018 Township Budget – A snapshot

I voted in favor of the 2018 budget this year. The 31.7 million dollar budget accomplished a number of important items on behalf of our 32,000 residents. First, it reduces general fund spending year over year, maintains the lowest suburban millage rate in the entire Lehigh Valley and continues the use of homestead and farmstead to reduce residential property tax bills including complete elimination of the township bill for 1,329 residents. While being a very taxpayer friendly budget it also maintains the very high level of municipal services that our residents expect and ensures continued capital investments in our community according to the adopted 5 year capital plan.

General Fund spending reduced:
2017 approved General Fund Spending: 14,702,900
2018 approved General Fund Spending: 13,682,385
This represents a 7% decrease in planned general fund (recurring) spending.

On the capital side of things major investments include:
-A new traffic light at Minesite and Cedar Crest tentatively planned for 2018.
-A new aerial truck and other apparatus’s for the Fire Dept.
-Incremental park improvements
-Purchase of more snow plow capable pickup trucks and 1 additional small dump.
-1.6 million set aside for farmland and open space preservation

Homestead Property Tax Relief.
The first column is your assessment, the second is what your tax bill would be without Homestead (the lowest Suburban millage in the County), the 3rd green column is what your bill is with homestead and finally the amount you save this year.

Green column is your tax bill with homestead. The last column how much you save this year with Homestead.









*2018 (for 2017 tax year) Homestead applications have been mailed out to homeowners by Lehigh County. Make sure you are enrolled! Call Lehigh County assessment office at 610.782.3038 if you aren’t sure. 

Last year I voted “NO” on the 2017 budget. I explained that vote here. This year, I voted “YES” despite dissatisfaction with the scale of the community center expansion. My vote was primarily on the merit of reducing the planned overall general fund (recurring) spend year to year. This was a goal. I was not going to vote on any budget that increased general fund spending. We did one better, we actually reduced.

With the Community center project – I opposed at multiple points growing costs, including most recently voting against the addition of a $95k reception area “add on” which was proposed very late in the game and added to project scope and costs. We were able to secure a stand alone vote on that item, but unfortunately we failed to remove it 3-2. While failing at removing that item, we were however able to remove by a 3-2 vote another 70k last minute addition of a sound proof ceiling in the 2nd gym. These last minute add ons were luxuries not necessities. And if needed, things that should have been addressed in the initial design phase. Not cobbled together at the last minute and at great (in the case of the desk shockingly so) cost.

Also, I was again disappointed that the budget included another 15% sewer rate increase. But please note and understand, this is an unfunded mandate dictated by the EPA. I’ve talked about this at length here on this blog. Learn more about the EPA mandate here. The township must (and in fairness should) address the sewer infiltration issues or face significant fines from the EPA. While this year represented a right sizing of the quarterly bill relative to the mandate, I will not support any additional increases next year.

For 2018 I also have the following goals for the budget:

1.) It’s my intention to introduce a homestead rate that completely eliminates the township property tax for homestead qualifying residents. This was setup by the successful passage of the November homestead referendum. I’ve written about this many times on this blog over the last couple years why and how we accomplish this.

2.) I would like to propose a policy that future spending increases cannot surpass the rate of inflation without a referendum. This would be a companion to the fund balance policy we adopted a few years ago. It represents financial restraint as a matter of policy and would send major discretionary spending decisions directly to voters. 

BOC Agenda 12/7

All township BOC meetings are available on video online. (Budget workshops also)
You can also watch all our board meetings live on Channel 66 RCN cable.

Below, is your agenda preview for the Thursday Dec. 7th Lower Macungie Twp. meeting. Board of Commissioner meetings are the formal business meetings of the township and are held every 1st and 3rd Thursday at the municipal building located at 3400 Brookside Rd.

This week, we have very few action items. We do have two interesting ongoing conversations outlined below.

First, Commercial fire inspections:
We will first have a presentation by LMFD Chief Nosal about the Knox Box aspect of the commercial fire inspection ordinance. A few weeks ago, there was a WFMZ article on the topic. I do need to say that none of the business owners interviewed who voiced concerns approached the township BOC in a formal fashion prior to approaching the media. This despite personally encouraging one particular business owner to do so. Had they, they would have had a sympathetic ear at least from my part to taking another look at some aspects of the program. Also there was some factually incorrect misinformation in the article put forth by one of the business owners. This is, in part why I requested this agenda item. I felt it was important to push back on that.

Two things to note: First, the commercial inspection program was passed by a prior board. So I’ve never voted on this subject, however as a resident and small business owner myself I did comment at the public meeting it was adopted before I was a Commissioner. You can read about that here.

Second, while I believe it’s been clearly demonstrated that installation of a Knox Box system on a commercial building makes sense for both first-responders and business owners in the case of an emergency, I do think there should be a way for business owners to opt out if they are willing to completely absolve the township and fire dept. of any liability. Again, (as a business owner myself) I think that’s the wrong decision, but individuals should have the ability to each make that decision and opt out off they choose. This is what I would like to discuss Thursday.

2018 Rate fee schedule: Last meeting we tabled approving the 2018 fee schedule since enough Commissioners (myself included) had additional questions about a staff proposed new construction permit for installing a new tub liner. I questioned whether it was necessary and asked for clarification what public concerns would be addressed. Although pitched as a revenue neutral permit, I always question new regulations and permits. 2 years ago there was a proposed new permit to install a back yard swing set. 3 Commissioners (including myself) opposed this and that new permit was rejected.

The next meeting on Dec. 21st will have many more action items and I’ll be sure to do a preview the week of. 

2017 Lower Macungie Santa Run!

The 2017 Lower Macungie Fire Department Santa Run is scheduled for:
Saturday December 9, 2017 (Rain Date December 10). Santa will be leaving the station at around 3:oo pm.

Link here for routes and times LMFD expects to be in developments. This is a wonderful and longstanding yearly tradition that I remember from when I was a kid! Thank you to the Lower Mac Fire Dept. Volunteers.

FYI – A question I usually get each year, is “Why doesn’t Santa come to my development?”. Below is the likely answer.

“Lower Macungie Fire Department The reason the LMFD has not come thru your neighborhood with the Santa Run is traditionally we refrain from those developments that are under construction and have not been ‘turned over’ to the Twp. The philosophy is; those types of developments under construction typically have basic roads (no top coat, not flush with the manhole covers, not maintained or cared for by LMT…etc). Additionally, in those situations you also have construction equipment and/or dumpsters lining the roads and you also can find small construction debris that can potentially flatten tires, etc. With that being said, however, in you particular case I know your development has been in existence for quite some time and I made a special trip out there this morning to see how it looked. While I won’t take the trucks thru the southern portion of the development where they are actively building, I think running Santa thru the area north of the development shouldn’t be an issue. Please check our website in the next 10 days or so and we will have the specific street by street routes up. Dave Nosal – Fire Chief”


Important reminders and information about the Santa Run:

1) We provide the turn by turn routes and time frames so you can plan accordingly; as you may have to come to a street / intersection that we will be passing by. It is not realistic or feasible to go down every street in the Township. The routes are set up in order to keep them running efficiently and effectively and so that we can hit the maximum amount of area in a reasonable time frame.

2) The times listed are approximate; as we will also have to respond and handle any emergencies that may come in while we are out.

3) Candy will be thrown to the kids, so please make sure your kids are careful when picking it up.

4) If you would like to submit a picture that you took of the Santa Run, please email it to: info@firestation30.org. We will be posting them on our Facebook / Twitter pages.

5) The Alburtis Fire Department will be doing their Santa Run on December 3rd. and will be going through the Hills at Lockridge and the Heritage Heights area of the Township.

Thanks, Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!

Read more, Lower Mac in the news:
Lower Mac moves to preserve 55 acre farm

With official map, Lower Macungie takes more proactive stance on land use issues.

Two Lehigh County townships in pilot program to save farms

Lower Macungie jumps on opportunity to preserve more farmland

Lower Macungie approves Shepherd Hills Golf Club preservation deal

Lower Macungie to give homeowners a tax break.

Vote YES on Nov. 7th property tax referendum.

Below is a letter to the editor that will be published in the Morning Call next week. Lower Mac uses homestead today, and I’m advocating for us to increase it to 100% if this referendum passes. This means we would effectively eliminate the township property tax for residential homes.


Vote YES on Nov. 7th property tax referendum.

On November 7th, Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum to reform property taxes through the state’s homestead exclusion program.

This would enable municipalities to exclude up to 100% percent of the assessed value of a home from taxation. Essentially, property tax bills could be reduced to zero. Currently, the homestead exclusion is arbitrarily limited to 50% of median assessed property value.

Lower Macungie now utilizes that maximum 50% homestead exclusion. This allows us to keep our low millage in place to collect revenue from impactful commercial land uses like warehouses and shopping centers while at the same time we can provide much needed tax relief to homeowners.

If the referendum and corresponding legislation is passed, Lower Macungie will be able to eliminate the entire residential property tax for every qualifying residential household.

Today, 1100 of our lowest income households pay no property tax because of our use of Homestead. A good start but it’s my hope we can eliminate the property tax for all households. A yes, vote would give us the local control to do just that.

Note, the referendum has bi-partisan support across the aisle. This is a no-brainer. Please vote yes on Nov. 7th.

Ron Beitler – Vice President Lower Macungie Twp. Board of Commissioners

Our State Government is Broken.

It’s time for a constitutional convention. And thanks to Sen. John Eichelberger and Rep. Steve Bloom that ball is in play. This editorial by Pennlive from the summer nails the reason. Read the op-ed here. In the op-ed the authors also touch upon a number of suggestions. Most (but not all) I agree with. This conversation has been ongoing but it seems like momentum is gathering. This is likely because frustration with state government is at an all time high.

Below are some of the good government structural reforms that I support. All of which could be addressed by a limited constitutional convention. I’ve written about a number of these at length on this blog over the last few years. A state constitutional convention is the mechanism to address all of these and other concerns at one time in a very transparent but also highly efficient way. Constitutional conventions give voters who are frustrated with broken state government the chance to take a very direct role in reform efforts such as:

  • Term Limits
  • Address the size of the legislature. For ex. reducing the size (and cost) of Government begins with eliminating the pointless office of the Lt. Gov.
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Gerrymandering reform
  • Reforming the completely broken and totally backwards state budget process.

These efforts would go a long way to draining the swamp at the state level. And a limited constitutional convention is the way you address them all at once. 

Here are some more resources:
Lawmakers file memos to initiate a Pennsylvania constitutional convention.
Eichelberger and Bloom news conference.

The Opioid Epidemic and an unholy alliance that feeds it.

Earlier this week as an interested constituent I had the opportunity to attend a town hall meeting hosted by PA State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie at the Township Community Center. It was well ran and very informative. Ryan runs a productive town hall. Not at one point did it get political, which was refreshing. It was 100% issues oriented.

A wide range of topics were covered, but there was one that really stuck out for me. We all know (sadly, far too many of us first hand) the issues surrounding our nations Opioid epidemic. I have personally always held the belief that any solution starts at home in local communities. That there is no silver bullet. Certainly, not a Government silver bullet.

I still strongly believe that, BUT it was eye opening to hear Ryan talk about some legislation he’s working on to help address ongoing related issues.

If this is of a concern you to, please take a some time to read the article below. In it reporters investigated the financial relationships between a workers comp law firm, physicians, and a pharmacy where injured workers were sent to fill prescriptions. Yes, it’s a longer read but it thoroughly exposes the connection between crooked Lawyers, Doctors and Pharmacies.

It’s one of the most powerful pieces of investigative Journalism I’ve read. You will be completely shocked at what’s going on in our state.

To address the opioid issue in this state one key strategy is to look closely at the current workers compensation system. Pennsylvania has the third highest average amount of opioids received by injured workers. We are 78 percent higher than the median state. This is completely unacceptable. And in too many cases there are nefarious forces behind that concerning statistic.

‘Talk about an unholy alliance’: Lawyers, doctors and pharmacies.

The Spotted Lanternfly is here. What to do.

How to Eliminate or Control Spotted Lanternfly Adults:

If you find Spotted Lanternflies where they are known to exist, you should try to kill them. (They are here in Lower Mac.) The most effective way to eliminate them is to disrupt their favorite food and hang‐out. In late summer and fall, Spotted Lanternflies prefer feeding on Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the “Tree of Heaven.” They can be found feeding on other plants and trees, but Ailanthus Altissima is their favorite host. Here’s an excellent resource to help you identify the tree:

How to identify a Tree of Heaven.

Identifying “Tree’s of Heaven” are the most effective way to control lanternflies long term.

If you have a Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) on your property: please consider reducing the number, then treat remaining “trap trees” with insecticides. This is a longer‐lasting solution than simply spraying insects you see. Click here for instructions on properly IDing

Why the tree of heaven spreads so devilishly and harms Pa. forests.



More detail about this process can be found at the following websites: Penn State Extension

1.)  What to do if you find spotted lanternfly on your property.

2.)  Mechanical Control: October – July

If you want to kill Spotted Lanternflies without controlling Ailanthus: When there are only a few insects, you can kill spotted lanternflies by swatting or crushing them. For large populations, two kinds of insecticides are widely available that will kill Spotted Lanternfly adults. Contact insecticides kill spotted lanternflies when the chemical contacts the insect directly. Systemic insecticides are absorbed by the tree and kill insects feeding on it.  ALL insecticides must be used as directed on the label. Take the time to read the label carefully and follow the directions. Click the link in next section for more information on chemical treatments. 

Lists of Chemical Treatments.  Penn State Extension is currently testing to determine which insecticides are most effective in controlling adult spotted lanternflies.  Preliminary results show insecticides with the active ingredients dinotefuran, imidacloprid, carbaryl, and bifenthrin are effective at controlling the spotted lanternfly.   Neem oil and insecticidal soap provided some control, but results varied, and insects sometimes took several days to die.

Other items of interest.
Some good news. State Farmland Funding Update. 
Want low taxes? Preserve Farmland