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Library branch in Unity to shut doors

| Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Local real estate taxes in Unity Township will remain the same in 2013, but the $5.7 million budget the supervisors approved this week eliminated funding for library services — a decision that caused library officials to announce that Unity's branch will close next week.

The township's balanced budget of $5,716,000 keeps property taxes at 3.2 mills, which includes a dedicated 1-mill tax — equal to about $270,000 — for the township's eight fire departments. Unity's balanced budget anticipates spending $46,000 less in 2013 than this year.

Almost one-half of the township's revenue for the general fund of $5.1 million will come from the collection of an anticipated $2.55 million from its earned-income tax.

The budget that was approved on Thursday did not include a contribution to the Adams Memorial Library of Latrobe, which operated a branch inside the municipal building and had 19 bookmobile stops in the township in 2012. Without any local financial support, Kathryn Elder of Unity, president of the Adams Memorial Library, told the supervisors the branch will close on Monday, but bookmobile services will continue for an indefinite period.

Elder said it would take about two weeks for the library to move its books, computers, shelves and other equipment. Two part-time employees at the Unity branch have resigned and taken other jobs, said Tracey Trotter, librarian of the Adams Memorial Library.

After Unity voters in November overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to allocate 0.25 mills of local property taxes to fund Unity's library services, the supervisors unanimously agreed to withdraw funding for library services.

In a related matter, Supervisor John Mylant resigned as Unity's representative on the Adams Memorial Library Board, effective Dec. 31.

In other business, a Lehigh County company that operated the adult bookstore on Route 30 has received an occupancy permit to reopen at the same site that was destroyed in a June 2011 arson.

Bargain Sales Inc., the Allentown company that operated the adult bookstore near the St. Vincent College entrance, was granted an occupancy permit last week, said Merle Musick, township building inspector.

The store can operate at that site, even though it is not zoned for an adult bookstore, because it is a nonconforming use that pre-existed the township zoning ordinance, said Gary Falatovich, township solicitor.

Casey Stubbs of Latrobe, who had questioned how the bookstore could reopen in an area not zoned for such activity, said pornography was a danger to the quality of life in the community. Stubbs said he was among a group of eight area residents who had protested the previous bookstore. They had not decided whether they would resume their protests, Stubbs said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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