County exec details 2021 budget
The Lehigh County tax rate will remain the same as last year’s millage rate at 3.78 percent, according to Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong, who detailed his 2021 proposed budget during an in-person meeting Aug. 27 at the Lehigh County administration building, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown.
“We have been working with the board of commissioners,” Armstrong said. “Our goal is to do what is right, not political.”
Last year’s vote on the budget was 7-2, meaning one Republican voted with the Democratic majority to pass the budget.
Remarking on the savings in printing costs by putting the proposed budget online via Lehigh County’s website, Armstrong ceremoniously handed over a two-volume printed budget to the two county commissioners who attended the announcement, Republican Marc Grammes and Democrat David Harrington.
Armstrong said his proposed budget continues a $25 million stabilization fund, the use of which has so far “enabled us to make it through” the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hats off to the Lehigh County workers who have kept the county going 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Armstrong said. “We never shut down the county.”
Armstrong said only $114 million of the $457 million budget comes from Lehigh County property taxes, with the balance being provided by state and federal pass-through funds.
Armstrong said labor, medical expenses and pension contributions account for most of the county’s expenses.
More than $33.3 million in federal CARES Act funding and $5 million in federal stimulus to Cedarbrook Nursing Home are included in the budget as revenues.
No cuts in the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office budget are reflected in the budget.
Armstrong said a “nonessential hiring freeze” implemented earlier in response to the pandemic will continue.
Farmland preservation will continue as a spending priority with $1 million earmarked for the program.