LEHIGH COUNTY CONTROLLER
One Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate are on the Nov. 5 ballot for Lehigh County controller. This is a four-year term.
The candidates were asked to respond to the following question:
What do you see as the biggest challenge financially for Lehigh County?
Their responses follow.
Mark Pinsley, South Whitehall Township
Over the past several years, Lehigh County has had a deficit budget. This year the county voted for a small tax increase in order to close the gap between the amount of money the county is spending versus the amount of revenue generated by the county. Going forward, the county will need to cut expenses or find new revenue sources. It may take the county years to get to a balanced budget. It will be important for the county executive and the county board to agree on a path forward.
Glenn Eckhart, Salisbury Township
As the county controller, I feel one of the biggest challenges that Lehigh County faces financially is keeping the employee retirement system solvent. The county pension system is currently paying out $34 million a year in benefits to retired employees. Our current employees are paying in $7 million a year and the county is paying in $14 million a year, which leaves the current pension system $13 million a year in deficit during a bad year of returns. The second challenge financially is the health care benefit cost, which has skyrocketed to $9 million a year, covering less than 700 retired employees.