Controller blasts Lehigh County plans for stimulus funding ahead of state Senate announcement

Written by on July 21, 2021

Controller blasts Lehigh County plans for stimulus funding ahead of state Senate announcement

By Ben Stemrich
July 21, 2021

Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley at a press conference July 21, 2021. Photo | Ben Stemrich / WLVR

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley has a problem with the county’s plans for $71 million in American Rescue Plan money.

Pinsley, who plans to announce his candidacy for state Senate on Saturday, assailed the county plan as “a historic misuse of funds.”

He said too much of the money will be spent on the county’s Cedarbrook nursing home and computer software and isn’t focused on pandemic recovery.

“So right now what the current plan does, it really focuses on Cedarbrook and software,” Pinsley said Wednesday during a news conference. I mean $4 million for software?

“Instead of investing in the future, we’re taking existing bills or bills we’re anticipating and paying them off.” 

Pinsley proposes using the money to provide a universal basic income, improve countywide broadband, give legal aid to those facing foreclosure or eviction from the pandemic, and investing in Freedom Schools programs that offer summer and after-school enrichment.

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong said he’s comfortable with the county’s current plans. City council approved the budget for the stimulus funding 9-0.

Armstrong disputed Pinsley’s characterizations that the money wasn’t properly going toward recovery.

“I think everything in that budget that we presented and passed was because of COVID issues,” Armstrong said. “We needed to, for example, upgrade our HVAC systems because of COVID.”

Pinsley, a Democrat, has said he will announce his candidacy Saturday for the 16th District Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Pat Browne. The district includes Allentown and most of Lehigh County.


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