Exactly five years after current chairman Robert G. Loughery first took the oath of office, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners met in the retrofitted Courtroom No. 1 that now serves as the Commissioners’ Meeting Room. The February 3 business session featured the approval of 35 contract resolutions for 16 County departments and a timely approval of County Ordinance No. 150.
Ordinance No. 150 authorized “the issuance of General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2016, in the aggregate principal amount of $55.255 million.” This unanimously approved ordinance will refund a portion of the 2008 General Obligation Bonds and generate $66 million for the County – some of which will be used for certain capital projects, including Open Space, the renovation and improvement of the County Administration Building and rotunda, the renovation and improvement of the County’s former Family Court building, and miscellaneous capital projects.
Commissioners Loughery, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW praised the County bond counsel and underwriters for their work – which will save the County $2.5 million in this bond issue alone. That savings is due to the strong current interest environment, the County’s two “AAA” bond ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s, and the bond’s underwriting. According to Chairman Loughery, the County has saved over $13 million in debt service through multiple refinancing efforts since Dec., 2013.
“I would like to commend all involved,” Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler said during his bi-weekly remarks. “This is a fantastic finish. We have tried to get the word out. Hopefully the public will get wind of the good work that is being done (financially). Our strong credit ratings netted an $11 million premium here.”
Although the meeting did not include any proclamations or commendations, the 35 resolutions featured 15 items dedicated to Human Services. Among them was a six-month, $29,134 contract (through June 30, 2016) to provide services at the Morrisville Senior Servicenter. The Morrisville facility, one of 13 the County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), will be carefully monitored for membership and usage for the length of this agreement to determine its long-term viability.
For the Children & Youth Social Services Agency, the board unanimously approved a one-year, $2.26 million contract renewal with Adelphoi Village, Inc. of Latrobe, PA to provide various services for children. Also approved for C&Y was a one-year, $754,000 contract renewal with the YWCA of Bucks County in Trevose to provide life skills, camps and literacy programs.
The commissioners accepted a $20,824 Bill of Sale and transfer of funds for the County World War II Memorial from the Bucks County Civil War Round Table, Inc. of Doylestown that will transfer maintenance of the structure in the Memorial Courtyard to the County government. The board also approved a cooperation agreement with the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks to accept and administer a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant for the St. Mary Medical Rehabilitation Center.
The Finance portion of the agenda included almost $1 million in various one-year insurance contract renewals, among them $292,824 for Excess Workers Compensation insurance, $483,733 for Property insurance, and $169,931 for Excess General Liability and Excess Auto insurance. For the Health Department, the commissioners accepted a $144,220 West Nile Virus Grant with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection to provide continuation of mosquito-control activities through Dec. 31, 2016.In the Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) realm, the board approved seven contracts for various services aimed at hospital inpatient services, mental health services, peer support services, and early intervention therapy services for children.
All of the contract resolutions passed when Chairman Loughery called the vote, although Commissioner Martin abstained on an 11-month, $50,000 contract with Donald Brennan Associates, Inc. to provide consulting services to the Records Improvement Committee.
In addition to his remarks about the bonds, Mr. Hessenthaler expressed his appreciation to those involved with the recent response to Winter Storm Jonas. He thanked the County Emergency Management Agency, General Services department, and Security office for their efforts to clear snow in large quantities. In addition, an emergency declaration has allowed Bucks County to attempt to reach a threshold to be reimbursed for efforts during the storm. County officials have reached out to municipalities and authorities to have them submit their expenses from the blizzard. Mr. Hessenthaler also reminded attendees that the state budget impasse stood at 218 days.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush noted that County Consumer Protection Director Mike Bannon and his staff have been dealing with the current IRS phone scams that have proliferated. She also mentioned the late January Point In Time homeless count that identified 525 documented Bucks Countians without permanent addresses – including 30 living outside shelters or transitional housing. That was an eight (8) percent increase from last year pending the final report for federal officials. She also discussed a “looming crisis” of electronic waste disposal that could impact residents on several levels. More information about that crisis will be forthcoming through the Bucks County Planning Commission.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 17 in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room (first floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA. For a complete audio account of the February 3, 2016 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.