"We are in a time of reduced revenue to the county and have to tighten our belts down to maintaining basic operations and supporting core functions. Fortunately, we were wise enough to take on an aggressive capital improvement plan during the last four years while revenue was available."
That's what LC Exec Don Cunningham said when releasing his fifth five-year plan today. In his first four years, Lehigh County built Coca Cola Park, renovated and expanded its Courthouse, relocated and upgraded its 9-1-1 Communication Center, embarked on an upgrade and expansion of our Community Corrections Facility, re-built or repaired more than 20 bridges, upgraded and improved IT infrastructure, relocated and improved the county's domestic relations facility, overhauled and improved the Cedarbrook Nursing Homes and built the Trexler Environmental Center. In addition, Lehigh County invested nearly $19 million for the preservation of farmland and open space, and improving county, state and municipal parks.
The latest plan, however, freezes green future fund spending and eliminates the purchase of any new vehicles with general county tax dollars. It cuts back on any maintenance that isn't absolutely necessary and eliminates projects that may be advantageous but are not needed for core operations.
Cunningham does, however, continue Lehigh County's commitment to public safety, maintaining IT infrastructure, improving bridges and maintaining nursing homes. The major new projects in the plan include a new Forensic Medicolegal facility ($2.1 million), which will be paid for with savings from the Courthouse renovation and expansion project, a Regional Crime Data Center ($4.2 million), upgrade and implementation of a new emergency radio system ($3.1 million), the replacement of the Coplay-Northampton Bridge ($12 million) and Lehigh Street 3 Bridge ($11 million) and development of the Jordan Creek Greenway ($1 million).
This five year plan reflects multiple sources of funding, much of which comes from state and federal sources. It covers the period from 2011 through 2015 and will be reviewed and voted on by the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners during July and August. The first meeting to discuss the plan is July 21 at 6 p.m. in the County's Public Hearing Room.