Lehigh Valley

Lehigh County nursing homes to reap benefits from federal program

Commissioners also act to improve transparency

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Lehigh County commissioners agreed at their Wednesday night meeting to commit $12.6 million to participate in a federal program that will net Cedarbrook Nursing Homes more than $4 million over the next year.

The vote was unanimous.

Commissioners approved participation in an intergovernmental transfer, or what is called an IGT. In this program, counties that own nursing homes send money to the state — in this case Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services. That money is then pooled and matched by federal money. The larger pool of capital is then divided up among the counties, netting additional funds for each participant.

The county operates facilities in South Whitehall Township and Fountain Hill.

Prior to the regular commissioners' meeting, Executive Thomas Muller presented a rendering of the exterior of the renovated Cedarbrook home in South Whitehall Township during the Cedarbrook Committee meeting. The rendering merges a new wing and the rehabilitated section.

"The key to this was crafting the front entrance that encompasses both the new and old section," Rick Molchany, the county's director of general services, wrote to WFMZ.com in an email. "I believe we captured the plan well."

In other news, commissioners also approved three bills on second reading that various commissioners said will add transparency to county government.

Bill 39 amends the administrative code to require board approval of the selection of the county's health insurance broker. Commissioner David Jones, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said the bill "does not empower the board to make the decision" as to the broker. That decision will remain with the county executive. However, he said, the legislative body will now "have some type of say-so" as to how the money is spent on that broker. 

Commissioner Percy Dougherty summed up the legislation by saying "it will bring more transparency in the process."

Bill 40 requires that an electronic copy of Lehigh County's annual budget be provided to commissioners along with the print copy. Not receiving an electronic copy of the budget had irked commissioners.

Finally, Bill 41 amends the county's administrative code to include requirements for preferential real estate tax programs. The bill establishes that certain financial information for entities receiving grants and tax incentives must be furnished.

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