Water and sewer improvements on Lehigh Avenue in Palmerton will cost $23,954.21 less than expected.

Carbon County commissioners on Thursday approved changes to the project that will bring the price down on the Community Development Block Grant funded project from $492,960.99 to $418,513.62.

In other matters, commissioners approved Amendment #1 to the Title XIX Medicaid Waiver Grant Agreement between the state Department of Public Welfare and Carbon County Area Agency on Aging. The amendment changes the reimbursement mechanism for the Nursing Home Transition Program Title XIX services.

The state Department of Aging had previously administered the funding. Now, it will be administered by the state Department of Welfare.

The agreement allows the county agency to receive funds for participation in the NHT program. The program helps senior citizens by making sure their homes are ready for them before they move from nursing homes. The preparations may include making the homes handicapped accessible or arranging therapies or other services.

The amount of funding the county receives varies. The agency handles an average of 20-25 nursing home transition referrals each year. If a senior wants to go home, and needs agency services, the agency is paid $10 per quarter-hour for "care management," the tasks its employees perform in arranging the services.

If the senior is successfully returned home, the agency receives $1,000. If the senior remains at home for three months, the agency receives an additional $250. If he or she remains in the community for six months, the agency receives an additional $500; and if he or she remains in the community for nine months, the agency receives an additional $750.

In other matters, commissioners:

Ÿ Authorized the Carbon County Action Committee for Human Services to continue, uninterrupted, the 2012-2013 Human Services Development Fund-related Adult Homemaker Services to clients in need beyond June 30, 2013. It is understood that any expense incurred to this program beyond June 30, 2013, will be recorded as fiscal year 2013/2-14 HSDF costs.

HSDF Related CHORE services under the newly-designed 2013/2014 Human Services Block Grant will be temporarily suspended until receipt of an allocation notice and further authorization from the county.

Homemaker Services and CHORE serve low-income residents. Funding is through the state budget, which has yet to be finalized, so the funding amount is as yet unknown. Last year, the governor proposed cutting these programs by 20 percent. before adopting the budget, legislators reduced the cut to 10 percent.

The governor and House version of the state budget both list funding levels at the same amounts as last year's budget, which is 10 percent less than the prior year.

In authorizing the amendment, the commissioners gave the go-ahead for the action committee to continue the administration of the Homemaker Services program, with the provision that costs after June 30 will be charged to the allocation yet to be decided by the state.

The committee spends about $30-35,000 per year on the program through the Human Services Development Fund.

The commissioners' action temporarily suspends the CHORE program, which provides minor home repairs/modifications that help make a home handicapped-accessible. The committee spends around $12,00 to 14,000 per year on the program through the Human Services Development Fund.

Ÿ Approved a child care provider agreement with Johnson Group Day Care, Slatington;

Ÿ Approved a tax refund for Betty J. and Ronald Anthony of Lower Towamensing Township for $41.71 due to a lowered assessment, and for the Tuthill Corp., Palmerton, for $217.48, due to an error in billing.