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Carbon County Funding cuts raise concern

Published November 19. 2011 09:01AM

Carbon County is seeing the effects of state cuts.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to approve the cooperative block grant agreement with the state Department of Aging. The term of the agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained the figures presented in the agreement $683,002 for Jan. 1 through June 30, 2012 and $1,346,511 for each fiscal year until 2016 are not the amounts the county can expect to receive annually from the state.

"I can tell you that we anticipated $1.4 million for this fiscal year under the block grant," he said. "But it's going to be significantly less than that. Representatives from the county Area Agency on Aging tell us that while the grant lists anticipated numbers, the actual amounts are determined on a year-to- year basis by the Commonwealth, based on finances that are available to them and it's often a different number than what's listed."

He noted that the amount has been going down and that the reduction is raising concern about the level of services the county will be able to continue offering seniors in the future.

In other matters, Commissioner Charles Getz voiced his disapproval of a multimillion dollar project, in which a tram would bring tourists from the top of Flagstaff Mountain into Jim Thorpe.

He noted that the county received a memorandum of understanding from Flagstaff Resort Land Holdings Ltc., about buying the property behind the county parking lot on Susquehanna Street. In the agreement, Getz said that the group said they would pay if the county hired an attorney to look over the agreement.

He said the county spent $1,300 to review the memorandum and sent it back to the company, but it was never returned to the county for final agreement.

"I assume the agreement is null and void at this point," Getz said, adding that the group never reimbursed the county for the attorney services and also owes the county $1,400 for last year's taxes on Flagstaff resort. "I will never support that project."

He then asked Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, who wrote a letter in support of the project, if he was aware that the county was owed nearly $3,000 from the group.

Nothstein said he was not aware of it.

The commissioners also received notification from Brian G. Davis, engineering technician for the Wilson Consulting Group, on behalf of the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, stating that the organization will be submitting an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for a pedestrian bridge over the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe.

O'Gurek explained that this project is the continuation of the trail the corridor has been working on.

The bridge would be a pre-fabricated steel truss bridge supported on reinforced concrete abutments. It would cross the Lehigh River in the area of Turkey Hill in Jim Thorpe.

Other business addressed by the board included: a change order to the repairs at the covered bridge. Further repairs to the steel decking and to a post were needed at an additional cost of $1,012.

The Beltzville Lions Club received $300 from the hotel tax grant funding; the cost for engineering services associated with the replacement of bridge 16 in Towamensing Township was increased from $542,638.56 to $592,636.02; and an agreement between Carbon County and the Susquehanna Group Advisors was entered into to evaluate the debt structure of the 2012 bonds, issued to Palmerton Hospital, at a cost of $15,000.

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