Lehigh County Commissioners review capital plan
The Lehigh County Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss the proposed five-year capital plan brought before the board.
This capital plan covers the period from 2013 through 2017 and identifies $50.2 million in capital needs for the bridges, facilities, and systems throughout Lehigh County.
Some of the major funding needs are in regards to fixing bridges, maintaining county correctional facilities, building emergency training facilities, and Cedarbrook Nursing Homes located in Allentown and Fountain Hill.
Out of the plan's total cost of $50.2 million, $2.4 million is being called for in operational dollars for the upcoming year.
Cedarbrook Nursing Homes are one of three specific divisions that are requesting the largest portion of funding from this proposed plan. Among the requests made by Cedarbrook representative Terry Lopus were funding to replace windows in the D Building, which is the largest building at the Allentown campus. The cost of this replacement is $200,000 which is only five percent of the total window replacement for the entire campus.
Lopus also discussed upgrading electrical wiring, plumbing, and cosmetics, such as painting, of individual units throughout the Allentown campus. This request was listed to be funded in 2013 with a medium priority ranking according to the capital plan laid out for the board.
Lopus went on to discuss expanding the security system for the Alzheimer and dementia patients located at this campus. Lopus informed the board that some residents have “tags” which helps the staff locate the patient wherever they are wandering on the campus, but Cedarbrook would like to expand on that system by including door alarms and shutting down elevators when those patients are outside of their allotted area.
This request was listed to be funded in 2014 but was ranked at a high priority according to the capital plan. When asked why the date was later but the priority was higher, Lopus said, “One regard is more resident-related. We feel we are ok with the D Building windows as they are… The windows are more a matter of energy and efficiency.”
Lopus went on to say that Cedarbrook prioritizes their requests on a case by case basis and they were looking to replace the windows sooner than the security system for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.
Lopus then requested $5,000 to pursue more family-style dining for patients at the nursing home to make the environment more welcoming and comfortable. When Lehigh County Commissioner Lisa Scheller questioned Lopus further on the high cost of this dining request, Lopus specified that the $5,000 would be used for dining carts and trays for the patients.
Another large request for funding was made in the area of information technology. A total of $650,000 was requested for information technology for the overall five-year plan and was split up according to priority within the department.
The largest portion of the total funding would be around $300,000 going towards PC replacements. These replacements would include desktop computers as well as laptops and thin clients.
Expanding, upgrading, and replacing servers, networks and data backups for next year would cost around $250,000 of the remaining request.
By the time the board got to the General Services section of the meeting agenda, due to time constraints, the commissioners focused discussions on projects to be funded within the next year.
Commissioner Scheller requested that any amendments to the capital plan will be accepted until August 1 and that the Board of Commissioners will further discuss the overall plan with any amendments at the next meeting, which is scheduled for August 8.
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