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Berks

Berks Heim as nonprofit still a concern for employees

Commissioners urged to keep home in county hands

READING, Pa. - At Thursday's meeting of the Berks County commissioners, a registered nurse at Berks Heim thanked the commissioners for their decision last week to take the sale of Berks Heim to a for-profit entity off the table.

Tracy Beebe expressed concerns, however, that the county is still considering making the county-owned nursing home in Bern Township a nonprofit entity.

"There is a belief that when a nursing home owner is nonprofit that it automatically means they'll uphold a higher standard of care, but sadly, too many examples of nonprofit ownership of these nursing homes have shown otherwise," she said. "The only way to ensure seniors at Berks Heim continue to receive the quality of care they deserve and paid for is to keep it in county hands."

In other business, the commissioners agreed to renew the county's current worker compensation excess insurance for 2018.

Michael Malinowski, the vice president of Engle-Hambright & Davies Inc., commended the commissioners.

"You're an example for counties across the commonwealth," he said. "It's unbelievable the work that's been put in, in order to keep these costs down.

"We're trending to be about $1 million all-cost included at the end of 2017, and we budgeted about $1.6 million," Malinowski added.

He offered a comparison of a city in Pennsylvania that has a payroll of $18 million and pays $2.2 million in its workers' compensation self-insured program.

In his closing comments, Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt addressed the optional $5 vehicle registration fee that was imposed in Berks County in March 2017.

"I know this hasn't set well with some folks who are now paying an additional $5 to the county for each registered vehicle," he said.

Barnhardt said the fee was projected to raise $1.5 to $1.9 million. He also said, as one of 22 counties to impose the fee, the commissioners were recently informed that the money would be matched by PennDOT.

The two bridges scheduled to be replaced in 2018 are Ebling Memorial Bridge, carrying Spring Valley Road over Bernhardt's Creek in Muhlenberg Township, and Glendale Bridge, carrying Winding Road over the Ironstone Creek in Douglass Township.


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