January 18, 2012
Commissioners Approve 21 Contracts for 11 County Departments during Bi-Monthly Meeting
During a brisk, 50-minute business session that doubled as Commissioner Robert G. Loughery’s first full session as chairman of the board, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners approved 21 contract resolutions involving 11 county departments. In addition, the board agreed to have Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler explore the possibility of conducting quarterly night meetings during the 2012 meeting cycle.
The county’s popular Agricultural Preservation program continues to move forward with farm easements, and the board approved a $2.5 million annual allocation to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Farmland Preservation to secure state matching funds. According to county Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey, three sources of funding contribute to farm preservation: state, county and municipal contributions. The Bucks County Agricultural Preservation Program will reach a milestone of 150 preserved farms with its next easement.
For Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures, the board approved an increase in Registration of Device Fees to cover increased business costs. County Director of Consumer Protection Mike Bannon indicated that the increase of registration for gas pumps, supermarket scales, etc. will generate an income increase of approximately $42,000.
Another fee increase involved the daily room rate at Neshaminy Manor, the county’s award-winning, 360-bed long term care facility in Warrington Township. The board voted unanimously to raise semi-private and private daily room rates by three (3) percent effective March 1, 2012. County Human Services Director Joe Funk explained that residents and their families will receive 30-day notice of the rate changes. Mr. Funk added that Neshaminy Manor administrators constantly monitor the rates of other, comparable long-term care facilities to ensure cost fairness.
For Parks and Recreation, the board approved a one-year contract renewal for B&B Turf Management of Fallsington to continue managing the Oxford Valley Golf Course in Falls Township. The county-owned course has experienced a revival under B&B’s direction over the last half-decade.
The board also approved three insurance contracts for the Finance Department, although Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW voted against a $305,383 premium for Excess Workers Compensation and a $36,579 premium to protect seven county-owned covered bridges. Commissioner Charles H. Martin lauded the bridges as a unique part of Bucks County’s scenic charm.
During miscellaneous comment, Commissioner Loughery touted the recent $21 million contract Lockheed Martin secured with the Air Force as a positive economic indicator for Bucks County. He also touted the recent purchase of the Bucks County Playhouse as “good news for tourism in New Hope.” He also noted that the first meeting of the Commissioners Economic Development Council (CEDC) – which was formed last year under Commissioner Loughery’s direction - will take place on Tuesday, January 24.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler touched on four items during his report, noting that county officials will conduct a “point in time” count of unsheltered homeless residents on Thursday, January 26; that the Recorder of Deeds office will offer Veterans ID Discount Cards at the Ottsville Volunteer Fire Company on Friday, January 27 (9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.); that county Grants Coordinator Fonta Reilly recently earned a national certification; and that the administration hopes to close on the agreement of sale for the former Upper Bucks Government Services Center in Quakertown later this week.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush extended her well-wishes to retiring Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce President Clark Shuster. She added that Mr. Shuster has been a valued partner of county government throughout the last quarter century, and he also served as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) a couple years ago. The commissioners plan to honor Mr. Shuster with a proclamation next week during an event at the Chamber.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, in the Conference Room of the Bucks County Courthouse (1st Floor). For a complete audio account of the January 18 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.