Conducting their initial slate of business for calendar year 2014, the three-member Board of Bucks County Commissioners maintained status quo with the unanimous appointment of Chairman Robert G. Loughery for the third straight year. In addition, Charles H. Martin will serve as vice chairman for 2014. Chairman Loughery thanked Commissioners Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW for their confidence in his leadership, noting that many significant county projects are either planned or in progress.
With the reorganization complete, the commissioners focused their attention on several significant business items, including the unanimous adoption of a formal Resolution asking the four Delaware River border states (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) to work collaboratively to amend regulations on water levels in the three New York City reservoirs that feed the river. According to county Executive Planning Commission Director/Chief Clerk Lynn Bush, the Resolution is an offshoot of the Commissioners’ Delaware River Flood Task Force that conducted a two-year study of flood events during the late-2000’s. The Task Force came to the conclusion that “some action” should be taken in attempt to lower reservoir levels to less than 90 percent. The formal Resolution notes: “Whereas, when the reservoirs are filled beyond their capacities, New York City is unable to provide any flood control downstream of said reservoirs during significant rain events, thereby presenting an unnecessary and dangerous threat to the lives and properties of the citizens of Bucks County.”
Ms. Bush summed up the crux of the Resolution by adding: “One or two feet (of water) in your living room makes a big difference.”
Overall, the board approved 32 contract resolutions involving 16 county departments. The commissioners also tabled a proposed $695,000 design contract with USA Architects Planners & Interior Designers, P.A. of Easton for the renovation of the Women’s Correctional Facility. Following lengthy discussion of the contract, the board felt more information would be helpful. According to USA Architects, the project involves analysis of the existing Women’s Correctional Facility and consideration of code issues, security issues and preservation of the existing asset.
For General Services, Commissioners Loughery and Martin approved a pair of change orders related to the new Justice Center project. Commissioner Marseglia voted against both. The first is a $64,197 agreement with project General Contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. to complete the interior fit-out of the Armory walls; the second is a $27,571.77 increase with project HVAC contractor Worth and Company, Inc. to provide additional soundproofing equipment in the penthouse. Commissioner Marseglia also dissented on a $619,733 contract for repairs to County Bridge No. 224 on Kitner Rd. over Gallows Run in Nockamixon Township. That bridge repair contract is with Bi-State Construction Co. of Easton, PA.
The board unanimously approved a $2 million allocation to the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to establish the “Bucks Guaranteed” program as part of the ongoing “Bucks 2 Invest” initiative. The Bucks 2 Invest program also includes components Bucks Rebuilt, Bucks Renewed, VC4BC, Taste & Tour Bucks County and Innovation Bucks County. Chairman Loughery explained the Bucks Guaranteed initiative as similar to a line of credit that will allocate funds from the post-closure landfill trust. He also noted that a January 24 media event will feature important information about the VC4BC launch.
The commissioners also approved a one-year, $422,000 contract with Verizon Wireless for cell phone service that will be used by approximately 675 county related lines during 2014. A similar, $31,000 contract with AT&T will cover a small contingent of county detectives.
For Military Affairs, the board signed off on a $5,075 contract increase with Davis Products of Guys Mills, PA to purchase 875 veterans’ grave markers for Memorial Day placement. The Parks & Recreation department received approval for B&B Turf Management to continue managing the Oxford Valley Golf Course through February 15, 2015 at an established rate of $171,000.
The meeting also featured the approval of $894,922 revenue through the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks to fund operations of the Lower Bucks County Public Safety Training Center, the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) and the Bucks County Police Association.
The meeting opened with Commissioner Marseglia reading a proclamation recognizing January 8, 2014 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day throughout the county. She read: “The United Nations’ International Labour Organization has estimated that at least 12.3 million adults and children worldwide are currently in forced labor, bonded labor, or forced prostitution.” Joining the commissioners for the proclamation were members of the Bucks County Coalition Against Human Trafficking (BCAT), whose mission is to eradicate human trafficking within our communities and enhance human dignity for all.
Although there was no public comment offered at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Martin congratulated Health Director Dr. David Damsker and the Health Department upon its recent selection as a “Community Champion” by the Bucks County Safe Kids Coalition. The department has been selected for its continued efforts in child passenger safety.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 in the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room, 1st Floor, Doylestown, PA. For a complete audio account of the January 8 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.