Commissioners Return to County Courthouse for October 17 Business Meeting
Approval Granted for 31 Contracts Involving 15 County Departments
Returning to the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room after six months of meeting visits to facilities and businesses throughout the county, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners considered a full slate of contract resolutions on the morning of Wednesday, October 17. Following deliberation of 34 items, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW approved 31 contracts and tabled three others for further study.
Prior to the 2-1 approval of a $20,490 change order with Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. for concrete and lean fill at footing foundation locations of the new Bucks County Justice Center that required additional excavation, Director of Operations Jerry Anderson provided an update on the project. "We did not want to risk an unsuitable foundation," he told the commissioners, noting that foundation work for the project has been completed. He added that change orders are the "nature of the beast" with a project of this large scale. Commissioner Marseglia voted against the contract.
For the county Open Space program, the board unanimously approved a $4,814, .8931-acre increase to a Natural Areas Grant previously approved by the commissioners on February 22, 2012. The Skoriak property in Durham Township will be permanently preserved through the Heritage Conservancy.
For the Planning Commission, the board approved a $60,000 grant agreement through the Delaware Valley Planning Commission to develop the Upper Neshaminy Creek Trail Feasibility Study. Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush shared a map of the feasibility study, which stretches from Central Park in Doylestown Township to the fork of the Neshaminy Creek in Wrightstown Township and also includes portions of lower Bucks County in Bristol Township.
Commissioner Martin questioned the use of county funds for a $215,595 contract renewal with K/S Truancy, Inc. to provide truancy prevention/diversion to youth. The contract passed by a 2-0-1 margin, with Commissioner Martin abstaining.
The board unanimously tabled the $60,000 designation of Interfaith Housing Development Corporation (IHDC) as a Community Housing Development organization. Chairman Loughery, who made the motion to table, wants to take a closer look at that contract. The commissioners also unanimously tabled a $176,000 payment to Verizon Business for new pass-through fees not identified in the county's current contract with the vendor. The commissioners will consult the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania for advice about this agreement.
Commissioner Marseglia motioned to table a $30,000 contract renewal with Newtown Ambulance Squad for ambulance services for individuals with mental health diagnoses. Chairman Loughery seconded the motion, and Commissioner Martin voted against tabling the item.
The meeting opened with a pair of commendations, as Commissioner Martin recognized the Bucks County Choral Society (BCCS) upon the occasion of its 40th anniversary season. The commissioners also approved a $1,000 "other civics" contribution to the Choral Society. According to Christopher Whitney of the BCCS, the organization now boasts a new rehearsal home at Lenape Presbyterian Church in New Britain and a new performance venue at the 1,000-plus seat, acoustically superior Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Buckingham Township. "We are proud of what we're offering to the community," Mr. Whitney explained.
Commissioner Loughery proclaimed the weekend of October 20-21 as Pumpkinfest 20th Anniversary throughout the county. The "signature event" for The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc. and the Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation, it features over 450 volunteers and 25,000 in attendance. As such, it is the largest two-day alcohol- and - other drug-free prevention activity of its kind.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reported that the county's highly successful Drug Take Back Program has benefited from more than $100,000 of drug forfeiture money from the District Attorney's office, including $10,000 to defray police overtime during the September 29 event. He also noted that the county Purchasing Department is looking into increased paper cost/usage in county government offices. He reminded residents that two public hearings on the new Pennsylvania Human Services Block Grant will take place on Thursday, October 18 (1:30 p.m. at the Bensalem Library) and on Wednesday, October 24 in the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room (2 p.m.). Mr. Hessenthaler also congratulated Commissioner Martin upon his state Senate confirmation to the Pennsylvania Transportation Commission.
Chief Clerk Bush provided an update on state Marcellus Shale funding that could be directed to Bucks County for Greenway Trail beautification projects. Based on the county's population (4.78 percent of the Commonwealth), Bucks would be in line for just over half a million dollars.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, in the auditorium of Plumstead Christian School, 5765 Old Easton Rd., Plumsteadville, PA 18949. For a complete audio account of the October 17 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.