On a morning dominated by the release of the 2015 Preliminary Operating Budget November 26 in the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW unanimously approved 22 contract resolutions involving 12 County departments.
“Let us give some thoughts on what we are thankful for,” Chairman Loughery stated at the outset of the meeting, which was conducted on the fourth Wednesday of the calendar month.
During a session devoid of proclamations or commendations, the board began by approving conservation easements on the Caccavo farm on Kitner Rd. in Durham Township and the Segl farm on Pleasant View Rd. in Springfield Township.
According to County Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey, the 65.81-acre Caccavo farm features panoramic views of New Jersey and ranked sixth on the list of farm preservation applications for 2014. The County will pay 50 percent of the easement, or $296,145, with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania funding the other 50 percent.
The Segl farm is a 25.61-acre property that is part of the Cook Creek Watershed. It also boasts an historic house on the land and is located adjacent to several previously preserved tracts. The county will pay $35,423 for the conservation easement. With the two farm preservations, the County Agricultural Land Preservation total stands at 172 farms comprising 14,470 acres.
The board approved five separate contracts for the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to provide in-home and adult services for clients. The commissioners also signed off on a one-year, $478,500 contract renewal with Cornell Abraxas Group, Inc. of Pittsburgh to provide long term drug and alcohol treatment services.
District Attorney David Heckler explained the request for a $75,305 gas chromatograph (GC) mass spectrometer for the Crime Lab as a “better, more efficient” way to test for illegal substances and prosecute crimes in his office. The board agreed, approving the purchase from Agilent Technologies of Santa Clara, CA.
The County’s ongoing Emergency Communications move to an anticipated 2015 “narrowbanding” cutover continued with the approval of a $37,459 lease agreement for a tower site in New Britain Township to deploy and install emergency radio equipment.
Another highlight of the agenda was a $15,806 federal “Continuum of Care Program Grant Agreement” to develop and implement a Strategic Plan for homelessness in Bucks County. According to Director of Housing and Community Development Roger Collins, the commissioners will appoint a board comprised of members of both the public and private sectors to provide recommendations. Mr. Collins noted that the Bucks County Housing Link received 700 calls a month requesting assistance.
For the Information Technology department, the commissioners approved a three-year, $1.646 million Microsoft Enterprise Agreement with CDW Government, LLC for subscription licenses, software subscription rights, access to online services and storage for members of the county workforce.
The Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) portion of the agenda featured three one-year contract renewals totaling more than $5.5 million for various mental health services.
Following discussion of a proposed one-year, $98,685 contract renewal with Elected, Inc. of Mt. Holly, NJ for the County’s 765 voting machines, the board unanimously voted to table that agreement for further study of the contract’s usage.
The meeting also included a $137,108 rebate check from PFM Advisors for the County’s recent purchasing card use. County Controller Ray McHugh joined the commissioners to accept a ceremonial document, noting that the check “had already cleared.”
In the “Other Civics” portion of the meeting, Chairman Loughery made a request to help fund local students for field trip visits to popular educational destinations such as the Mercer and Michener museums, Pennsbury Manor, the Pearl S. Buck Historic Site, the Bucks County Playhouse and the Bristol Riverside Theater. Those funding options will be explored in the near future.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, in the auditorium of the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, 3207 Street Rd., Bensalem, PA 19020. For a complete audio account of the November 26 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.