As the Board of Bucks County Commissioners approved 49 contract resolutions involving 18 county departments April 17 in the Courthouse Community Room, a common thread ran through several of them. Increased efficiency associated with a five-year, $947,973 contract with Kronos, Inc. of Chelmsford, MA to implement and maintain a county-wide time and attendance system prompted lengthy discussion between Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW and several department heads. Ultimately, after concerns about the price, potential proprietary system issues, elimination of current timekeeping clerical jobs and the contract's escape clause were addressed, the contract was passed by a 3-0 margin. According to county Information Technology Director Don Jacobs, Phase I of the contract totals just over $500,000, at which time the success of the system will be analyzed.
The board also unanimously approved a Human Resources Memorandum of Understanding with six Bucks County Senior Youth Counselors and five contract agreements with Pennsylvania Social Services Union, Local 668, SEIU, AFL-CIO involving 421 county employees in various departments. All six of those agreements cover the period January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015. The PSSU contract calls for 0 percent raise in 2011, one percent effective December 31, 2012 and two percent each year from 2013-15.
Also in the Information Technology realm, the commissioners unanimously gave approval to a $94,726 contract with Verizon Business of Harrisburg to replace 300 old telephone lines with Centrex lines. According to Mr. Jacobs, the cost savings to the county will be approximately $28 per month per line - or more than $200,000 overall.
The meeting commenced with Chairman Loughery requesting an extended moment of silence for the City of Boston and the victims and families of Monday's explosions. He then led a round of commendations and proclamations by issuing a commendation to the county Department of Corrections and its staff for winning the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania 21st Century "Best Practices Award," which they recently garnered for the House Arrest program.
Following questioning by Commissioner Marseglia about the program's guidelines, qualifications and impact, the board approved a four-month pilot program for Adult Probation to provide GPS monitoring of offenders.
The county's preserved Open Space rolls grew by 53 acres as the board unanimously approved a $140,856 Municipal Open Space Grant for 5.78 acres at 225 Keeley Ave. in New Britain Borough, and a Natural Areas Program grant for 47.659 acres in Tinicum Township. According to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, the New Britain property, also known as the "Orchard Tract," will be an extension to an existing park that will offer passive recreation. The Tinicum property, which includes 4,000 feet of the Tinicum Creek, cost the county $87,893 to preserve and will continue to function as a summer program for children. It is located near 180 county-owned acres that make up the Pine Run Reservoir.
County Director of Operations Jerry Anderson provided a brief Justice Center construction update following the approval of three change orders related to the project. The board unanimously approved a $75,031 contact with general contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. for costs associated with temporary heaters and enclosure of the building and a $74,492 contract, also with Ernest Bock and Sons, Inc., for costs associated with structural steel changes. Mr. Anderson noted that the change orders, while costly, will come in well under the initial estimate of $437,000 for temporary heaters and enclosure for winter work. The project is approximately 45 percent complete.
Commissioner Marseglia voted against a $195,000 contract for specialized foster care with The Impact Project, Inc. of Emmaus, PA and an $11,478 increase to audit premium for Excess Workers Compensation Insurance policy - both of which passed by a 2-1 margin.
Commissioner Marseglia also read a proclamation designating April 20-27 as "Infant Immunization Awareness Week" throughout the county. During 2012, over 8,867 doses of vaccine were administered by the Bucks County Health Department to children 18 and younger. Over 1,121 were specifically administered to infants 24 months or younger in the Health Department clinics.
Chairman Loughery proclaimed April 28 March of Dimes Day, honoring the 75th anniversary of that charitable organization. The 2013 Bucks County March of Dimes Walk will take place on Sunday, April 28 at 9:00 a.m., when hundreds of area residents will gather at Bucks County Community College in Newtown to help in the fight against prematurity and birth defects.
Commissioner Martin issued a proclamation to Waste Management, Inc., which will open a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Bristol Township on Friday, April 19. Waste Management of Delaware Valley is currently running 32 CNG collection trucks, and expects to have an additional 10 CNG vehicles in service by next year - representing nearly 68 percent of its Bristol-based fleet and covering routes in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
The county's Bucks Employees Green Initiative (BEGIN) Committee was represented by co-chair Dennis Livrone of the Planning Commission, who provided a brief update on the committee's annual ac
tivities. In addition to recycling at county facilities, encouraging car sharing, applying for grants and implementing lo-mow/no-mow policies at larger county properties, the committee will continue to seek environmentally friendly, cost-effective initiatives.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reminded residents that Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. will be the county's next Medication Take Back Day, at locations throughout the county. He also provided an update on the county employees' dependency audit, which is projected to save the county approximately $300,000 by removing ineligible dependents from coverage.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at the Rose Bank Winery, 258 Durham Rd. (Rte. 413), Newtown. For a complete audio account of the April 17 meeting, please visit the official county website,www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.