Friday, August 22, 2008

Lehigh County Exec Cunningham: No Tax Increase Next Year

Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham unveiled next year's budget today. It will be tax increase free while promoting public safety inititatives. He makes a complicated job look easy. Of course, he has a dedicated board of commissioners, too. At a glance, here are a few Lehigh County initiatives.

* Re-introduction of the “Safe Streets” community policing program to help municipalities combat crime by hiring community police officers.

* Adding positions to meet the growing needs of the District Attorney and Sheriff. This brings the Cunningham Administration’s total to 44 new public safety positions over its three years in office.

* Funding the purchase of records management software for police departments to allow every department in Lehigh County and many beyond to share real-time crime information.

* Additional funding for a Crime Data Center to help share crime tracking and analysis information across municipal lines.Completion of a new 9-1-1 communication center and the first phase of a forensic investigation facility for the coroner that will allow more advanced investigations.

* Additional funding for mass transit, including $75,000 for a feasibility study to explore the possibility of extending rail lines from New Jersey into the Lehigh Valley.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"He makes a complicated job look easy."

Bernie, please. The fact that there is no tax increase is not news.

Cunningham campaigned against Jane Ervin's 70% tax hike as unnecessary (which was correct), but has yet to even think about a tax cut (which is wrong). Instead he is trying to find new ways to spend county taxpayers' money (which is wrong again).

County taxpayers are so overtaxed that there is no need for a tax increase for many years.

Allentown is not short of funds for police, it is short of management skills in City Hall.

The Mayor is constantly bragging that he has taken Allentown from a deficit to a $14 million surplus. If that is true, there is no need for the county to fund ANY police officers.

If the Mayor's claims are not true (and we know they are not), Mr. Cunningham's "Safe Streets" proposal is compounding the problems of city taxpayers by trying to cover for Ed Pawlowski.

michael molovinsky said...

cunningham unionized cedarbrook, the county nursing home, immediately upon taking office, which will eventually lead to its eventual demise.
cunningham grew the bureaucracy into a budget which he criticized as excessive while campaigning.
cunningham has yet to fix the linden st. bridge, another campaign issue and press conference site.
cunningham downsized the courthouse addition, only to turn around and buy a large office building for a 911 call center?
cunningham is a cardboard check trainee, ala rendell, eroding the surplus for hi-tech crime measures against teenage punks
beware of politicians who make it look easy

Anonymous said...

The best thing to ever happen to Don Cunningham's political career was Jane Ervin setting that county up financially.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Cunningham's "Safe Streets" proposal is compounding the problems of city taxpayers by trying to cover for Ed Pawlowski

This is nullshit. In order to make a point about Pawlowski, you'd make the entire city of Allentown suffer? There is absolutely no dispute that Allentown needs more police. It may need new management, too, but it needs more police.

It is short-sighted to let blind hatred prevent you from helping fund a partial answer to one of A-town's most serious problems.

LC's $405 MM budget is funded about 75% by state and feds, but those funds are diminishing. In addition, discal pruidence demands at least 2 months in cash reserves. That's a little over $67 MM right there. There's really not a lot of money left over.

The 5 R commissioners who make up the majority in LC are all fiscal conservatives. So far, they have not united behind the belief that LC residents are overtaxed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

cunningham grew the bureaucracy into a budget which he criticized as excessive while campaigning.

Actually, the county did not grow at all last year.

cunningham has yet to fix the linden st. bridge, another campaign issue and press conference site.

Last time I checked, those repaiers have been started.

Anonymous said...

Don was given a lot of dough to play with by his tax drunk predecessor. He should be cutting tax rates. Instead, he administers a group-think Stockholm Syndrome in which taxpayers (and giddy, cheerleading bloggers) identify with their overseers and are grateful when their shamefully high tax rates are left shamefully high - but not increased.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Cunningham is unable to do anything unless the R-controlled county comm'rs agree. They hold the purse strings. They are all fiscal conservatives. Dean Browning tried to get a tax cut last year, but there was insufficient support.

I'll repeat that only around $100 MM of LC's revenue comes from property taxes. The county needs at least $67 MM in reserve.

We are all aware the Jane Ervin tax increase was too high, but the amount of money Browning proposed returning to taxpayers amounted to a tank of gas. I happen to agree that it still should have been returned, but it's not an obscene amount of money.

I do believe Don Cunningham is a very good county exec. His job is very difficul, and any county exec will tell you. he does make it look easy. Like most successful elected officials, he reaches across the aisle.

That's what works, not partisanship.

Anonymous said...

Don admits digging into the cash reserves to avoid a tax increase. That is exactly what Reibman did and Angle claims to hate.
Yet DC is great and GR was a bum. You will have your usual BS reason on how different these things are but they are basically the same thing. You may be crazy but you are not stupid. Stop acting like everyone else is.
You are a hypocrite.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The situations are completely different.

Reibman cooked the books, invading cash reserves until there was a major increase and layoffs, which propelled the county workforce into union embrace.

Cunningham, on the other hand, has adopted sound accounting principles, leaving at least two months of day to day expenses in reserve.

Reibman floated a ridiculous bond that included an unnecessary courthouse expandion as well as economic development in greenfield space.

Cunningham stood up to the judges and gave tham a smaller courthouse than they wanted. Instead of ruining greenspace, he invested in farmland preservation.

Reibman is reckless while Cunningham isd much more fiscally conservative and has a board of commissioners who actually do their homework.

If Cunningham were to reduce the cash reserve below what is generally acceptable, I would be a critic.

NLVlogic said...

The County Republicans need to look inside themselves rather than attack Cunningham. Had the R's not have followed Jane Ervin to defeat in the last election, only Kevin Ryan stood next on the Republican ballot. Frankly, the Rs need to do better. We have better people than those we endorse as a Party. Signed, Yours Truly, NLV, an R committee person, albeit only through the end of the year. I've had enough for awhile. We're not inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Prove charge of 'cooking books' or delete yourself. If he cooked books it happened with the help and knowledge of current fiscal employees. You must report your 'facts' to the Da or to the State authorities.
Of course you can not do this since you are lying.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He cooked the books and did it every year until he had to drestically cut the budget and lay people off. He dipped too far into the cash reserve every year, spending the seed corn. Nobody called him a criminal, just a lousy exec.

Anonymous said...

"The proposed budget includes keeps the county rate at 10.25 mills. Next year's budget represents a 1.1 percent increase from last year and keeps overall employment level. Lehigh County has $43 million in cash reserves."

The county needs at least $67 MM in reserve? Uh-oh!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, it needs to follow commonly accepted accounting principles. $43 MM plus the $20 MM in the "untouchable" reserve puts LC very close to the figure I mention.

Anonymous said...

'Commonly Accepted Accounting Principles' are not the ten commandments. I asked an MBA accountant buddy. He said I should bet the house on any such principle written defining that two months of operating dollars must be held in reserve. Just is not true and does not exist.
As to Reibman I agree he screwed up with alot of help from some others in Fiscal Affairs by freezing salaries and laying people off. However, I blame the County Council as well for voting for those budgets. They could have restored the jobs or added a raise. The Budget is the one real job they have and saying there is nothing we can do in that amount of time is a cop out.
Any County Council member who voted for Reibmans budgets are just as bad as he and his budgets.

Anonymous said...

"LC's $405 MM budget is funded about 75% by state and feds, but those funds are diminishing. In addition, discal pruidence demands at least 2 months in cash reserves. That's a little over $67 MM right there. There's really not a lot of money left over."

Bernie -

I would argue that many of the 75% of programs funded by the feds and state are for the county to administer federal or state programs. Unless Mr. Cunningham wanted county taxpayers to pay for a federal or state obligation, the programs would likely disappear if the state or federal funding dried up.

Therefore the number you cite as needed for cash reserves is vastly overstated. A cash reserve would be needed for only the programs that the county would continue to fund alone.

Anonymous said...

This is nullshit. In order to make a point about Pawlowski, you'd make the entire city of Allentown suffer? There is absolutely no dispute that Allentown needs more police. It may need new management, too, but it needs more police.

It is short-sighted to let blind hatred prevent you from helping fund a partial answer to one of A-town's most serious problems.


Bernie -

I wouldn't give money to a crack addict either, but that doesn't mean I don't feel sorry for the addict or their family.

The fact is, Pawlowski pushed for the EMS tax as soon as he took office. Where did that money go? Certainly not for more police.

Giving Pawlowski county money for police sounds good, probably would even feel good. However, giving him a million dollars for cops would only allow him to take a different million dollars of general fund money and spend it elsewhere.

Growing the police force is not his priority, or we'd have it by now.

P.S. - I can't afford blind hatred - I live in Allentown and have to deal with what Pawlowski creates (whether good or bad).