CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Cumberland County is starting to allocate money from the sale of the Claremont nursing home. Commissioners voted to sell it in July 2021, facing opposition from the community.
On Thursday, they voted to transfer more than $4 million, and some of the opposition is back. Commissioners voted to put that money into the county retirement fund, which would pay for things like pensions for nursing home employees. Still, one group said they want the community to have more say in how this money is spent.
“We took a look at what is left over right now, which was approximately $16 million,” commissioner Jean Foschi said of Thursday’s meeting.
Foschi and her two colleagues voted unanimously to move more than $4.1 million into that retirement fund to serve Claremont employees.
“The county has an obligation to fund that pension for them so that when it’s time for them to retire, the money is there for them,” she said.
The county’s chief financial officer recommended three more transfers: Almost $7.5 million to the general fund, over $350,000 to pay for nursing home employees’ health care after retirement, and more than $4.5 million for other nursing home-related costs.
“There could be expenses for the nursing home that come up,” Foschi said, adding their financial officer used an audit as an example.
Not everyone is on board. Citizens Saving Claremont, a group which first tried to stop the sale, now argues the public should have more say in how the money is spent.
“Have public hearings,” spokesperson Tim Potts said. “Learn what people want to do with that money, don’t just assume that you know.”
Foschi said the county had to prioritize Claremont employees.
“When you say to someone, we’re going to cover your pension and we’re going to cover your health care, we better make sure that we have the money for it,” she said.
However, there is still money on the table. Foschi said the $7.5 million which might be transferred to the general fund has not been allocated for a specific purpose, and they want the community’s input on what to do with it.
“[I] would like to have heard that they are in fact going to have public hearings, that they’re going to sit down with people in the communities throughout the county,” Potts said.
Foschi explained she and her colleagues are working on a more in-depth process to get the community involved.
“I am very, very hopeful that what we are moving toward is a process that allows people to sit down at a table as a group and be on a committee and really and truly talk this out with the county,” she said.
Commissioners will vote on the other three recommended transfers of money at their next meeting on Monday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.