Wing for dementia patients proposed by Allegheny County

County to budget $1 million for unit at Kane in Scott

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Forty-five beds at Allegheny County's Kane nursing home in Scott are in line to become part of a specialty unit to serve people suffering from dementia.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has proposed spending $1 million next year to convert a portion of the nursing home, known formally as a John J. Kane Regional Center, into a secure unit for Alzheimer's disease patients and other seniors needing special care.

The construction funds would come from proceeds of a $167 million county bond issue sold earlier this year.

Money for the changes at the Kane nursing home are included in a preliminary $84 million capital budget for 2013 that lists 115 projects. The capital budget was part of a "comprehensive fiscal plan" presented last week to county council, which has final say on taxes and budgets.

If the Kane conversion project is approved by council, the new facility could be ready to receive patients by fall of next year.

"There is a need for this in the county," Mr. Fitzgerald said Wednesday. Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance would reimburse the county for the additional expenses of caring for seniors with dementia, officials say.

The capital budget funds long-term projects with multi-year benefits.

Capital spending proposed for next year includes $30 million for bridge repairs, $16 million for road maintenance, $9 million for Port Authority mass-transit projects, $4 million for park improvements, $13 million for building renovations and $8 million for new equipment. The budget also includes $1 million for feasibility studies and $2.5 million for contingencies, which include cost overruns or unexpected expenses.

Next year's preliminary spending plan is 8 percent smaller than the 2012 capital budget of $91 million. The proposed budget would spend less on bridge projects and equipment next year.

The single biggest item in the 2013 spending plan is the final $15 million for reconstruction of the Mansfield Bridge project, which connects McKeesport and Glassport with Dravosburg. The three-year project, which began in 2011, is expected to cost about $41 million.

The county gets back in federal and state reimbursements about 90 percent of the money it spends on bridge projects. The rest would be financed from the bond sale.

Proposed spending for bridges also includes $635,000 for reconstruction of the Dooker's Hollow span in North Braddock.

The biggest single recommended street project is $1.8 million for the first-year costs of reconstructing Bower Hill Road in Mt. Lebanon and Scott. Another $1.5 million would be set aside for flood protection efforts along a 7.4-mile section of the Turtle Creek watershed.

The county's $8.8 million allocation toward Port Authority capital projects would provide local matching funds for such things as replacement of buses and light-rail vehicles and the county's annual share of costs for construction of the North Shore subway line. The county had agreed to provide $12.7 million toward the project.

The $1.6 million proposed for 2013 brings the county's contribution to $11.4 million toward the $524 million cost for the new stations and light-rail tunnel under the Allegheny River.

The biggest projects proposed in county parks are $545,000 for a maintenance building at Settlers Cabin Park and $600,000 to replace a water line along Ingomar Road in North Park. The capital budget also includes $1 million for swimming pool repairs and $800,000 for repairs at the county's three wave pools.

In addition to the $1 million for renovations at the Kane nursing home, proposed capital spending on county buildings includes $2.2 million for the county's share of roof-and-parapet repair on the City-County Building and $2 million for the likely demolition of the county's deteriorated Fourth Avenue garage. The garage has been closed since February and a decision on its future will be made in the next few months, county manager William McKain said.

The largest single equipment purchase would be $2 million for heavy equipment, which includes patrol cars, trucks and tractors.

The capital budget also includes $1.2 million for computer equipment upgrades and $330,000 for hardware to be used for electronic medical record-keeping at the Kane nursing homes.

Council will hold public hearings on all budgets included in the comprehensive fiscal plan on Nov. 14-15 and take final action on spending and taxes in early December.

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Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159.


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