Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Cusick Unveils Several Cuts to Stoffa's Budget
Many of these adjustments actually come from the Administration itself. For example, health care costs are down this year and will be reduced, although the projected pension contribution is going up by $832,000 as a result of market fluctuations. In addition, Gracedale costs are being downsized $1.6 million as a result of savings that the nursing facility's new private manager hopes to realize.
The one big ticket item proposed by Cusick is the elimination of $1 million from John Stoffa's open space funding next year. Stoffa has set aside $3.75 million for open space, but Cusick objects to funding environmentally sensitive lands with $1.2 million when there are only $200,000 worth of projects.
Before making this proposal, open space advocates flexed their muscles. The Nature Conservancy's Ellen Lott, who claims to speak for the trees, came down from Monroe County. The Wildland's Ken Barrett came up from Emmaus. Both of them did their usual preaching.
As soon as Cusick made his proposal, Upper Mount Bethel Tp Supervisor Judy Hinkel, another open space advocate, sprang up from her seat and gave Council a third lecture, while Barrett spoke out from his seat and Lott's hand went up in the air.
It made no difference. Cusick flatly stated that he dislikes seeing pots of money with no projects attached to them, while Barrett stated there are no projects without those pots at the end of the rainbow.
Since voters have overwhelmingly endorsed open space, both in a referendum and in an election in which Stoffa promised to raise taxes for that express purpose, it seems that this decision is contrary to the will of the voters.
The Monocacy Creek, which swept away half of Musikfest this year, presents a regional problem, and the County is considering an acquisition near Housenick Park that could go a long way to solving that problem. But it can't even start if it has no money.
The Express Times and Morning Call both have accounts presenting additional minor cuts.