It's budget time for the Stoffa administration. As many Lehigh Valley employers struggle with understanding the Affordable Care Act, County Executive John Stoffa had made the decision to reduce the costly impact of the Cadillac Tax by increasing the county's full-time employees co-insurance contributions for healthcare benefits.
Northampton County's 2014 proposed no-tax-increase budget will use $19 million from the budget's rainy day fund to balance the $330 million spending plan.
Released to Northampton County Council and the public for review, County Executive John Stoffa's eighth and final budget "presents a reasonable spending plan while considering the growing needs of county government," according to the executive's budget message.
Open space preservation and outdoor recreation are important to Northampton County residents. At Northampton County Council's Sept. 19 meeting, council members learned of projects that would be eligible for Marcellus Shale Legacy funds or Act 13.
While a good portion of the impact fee revenues from Marcellus Shale are designated for highway bridge improvements, water and sewer projects and environmental stewardship, all counties in the state are allowed a distribution to be applied to greenways, recreation, open space and other comparable projects.
Uses for funds
Northampton County Council and the Save Braden Airpark Initiative are hoping that Braden Airpark will not be sold.
Councilwoman Peg Ferraro and other council members are supporting a Sept. 19 resolution that urges County Executive John Stoffa to take legal action as is deemed appropriate to prevent the closure and/or sale of Braden Airpark by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA).
Stoffa said that after discussion with the LNAA members, he has reached a tentative agreement that LNAA will make no decision to sell the airport until March 2014.
John Mehler will serve as the acting director of Northampton County's Department of Human Services effective immediately. Mehler, the former director of the county's Area Agency on Aging, replaces Ross Marcus, who resigned as director to become deputy executive director for Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV), a subcontractor to the county.
Council confirmed Mehler's appointment at a Sept. 5 council meeting and thanked Marcus for his seven years of service to the county.
The Lehigh Valley 2013 Hazard Mitigation Plan is in place and ready for action. While no one ever wishes for an emergency in their backyard, it's always a good idea to have a plan in place. Acting on and maintaining a disaster recovery plan not only makes the county more resilient but more importantly makes it eligible for federal funds when disasters occur.
Northampton County has a stray dog problem. With no space and increased drop-off fees at the county's Center for Animal Health and Welfare, the county's police officials spend hours after they have picked up a stray dog looking for a facility to house it.
A Northampton County Council resolution opposing the removal of two Easton dams to restore shad migration met with resistance from seven of the eight members attending council's July 18 meeting.
Introduced by Councilman Bob Werner, the resolution listed a multitude of reasons for keeping the dams in place. Two major reasons involved cost of the project and rationale for the removal.
Dating back to the 1800's, the dams are located at the juncture of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers in Easton and the Chain Dam near Easton's Hugh Moore Park.
Three Café the Lodge volunteers received recognition for being living examples of how people recovering from mental illness make positive contributions to their community.
In a first-ever I'm the Evidence awards ceremony, Gary Rehm, Jim Gillen and Jacob Ackerman, Café the Lodge volunteers, were honored for being inspirational role models in demonstrating what can be achieved with the encouragement of a supportive community.
In the words of poet Gillen, who was unable to attend the Aug. 16 ceremony at the Café but shared a poem by video, "I don't survive, I thrive."
Northampton County's growth trend includes an increasing number of deaths handled by the coroner's office. In 2012, 1,917 deaths were investigated, or about 100-plus cases a month. In 2000, there were 782 death investigations.
These numbers were part of W2A Design Group's morgue study which was presented at an Aug. 15 Northampton County Council meeting.