Mercer Co. leader among those asking for better communication between state, local governments

Coronavirus

Matt McConnell said there's been very little guidance from the state on the reopening process and how it's all supposed to be paid for

HARRISBURG (WKBN) – As the Wolf administration begins its reopening of Pennsylvania, not everyone is pleased with the governor’s plans.

Members of two committees held a virtual hearing Monday morning from the Senate Chambers in Harrisburg. They heard from health care experts and local elected leaders about their concerns over reopening some parts of the commonwealth, while leaving others unable to restart their economies.

Among those testifying was Mercer County Commissioner Matt McConnell.

He said while he won’t criticize the decisions, there are only two COVID-19 patients now on ventilators at the county’s four hospitals.

“We have been moved into the ‘yellow,’ but I always fear what may come down and whether we have a spike, whether we will be put into the ‘red.’ Our ambulance companies and hospitals have actually discussed being underutilized.”

McConnell said the lack of patients is having an impact on the financial stability of those hospitals.

He said there’s been very little guidance from the state on the reopening process and how it’s all supposed to be paid for.

“They’re pushing it back off through to property tax. Most people don’t like property tax at the state level but anytime those actions get pushed back to the county, that’s exactly where the taxes will need to be raised and revenue will need to be raised to address that.”

The head of the state’s County Commissioners Association told the senators better communication is needed between state leaders and local county governments, which will ultimately have to implement the governor’s plans.

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