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Bucks County Commissioners Approve Annual Health Plan Contract, Near Agreement With All 18 County Bargaining Units

December 7, 2017

As the 2017 calendar dwindles into December, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners continues to implement plans for 2018 and beyond. To that end, Commissioners Charles H. Martin, chairman, Robert G. Loughery and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW work to shape the Fiscal Year 2018 budget by approving many of the items that will form that document.

On the morning of December 6 in the commissioners’ Doylestown meeting room, the board approved 65 contract resolutions impacting 16 County departments, 19 of them involving the Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) office. Commissioner Loughery abstained from a Human Resources vote on a $30.125 million contract with Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia to provide hospitalization, medical, prescription and vision coverage for 2,295 employees and their dependents during 2018, which passed by a 2-0-1 margin. The commissioner currently serves on an IBX advisory board. Chairman Martin voted against a one-year, $838,647 MH/DP contract renewal with Horizon House, Inc. to provide residential services through June 30, 2018.

A proclamation presentation for the Tree of Hope, representing recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.The meeting, which featured a prolonged round of public comment, opened with Commissioner Marseglia issuing a proclamation in honor of the County’s Tree of Hope, which will be placed in the first floor foyer of the Administration Building rotunda. It will be decorated with the names of many residents lost to the ravages of addiction. The annual tree dedication ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 in the rotunda.

Under the commissioners’ umbrella, the three members agreed to a resolution for the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority to approve bonds issued for a project on behalf of Bucks Technical Associates, LLC. Commissioner Loughery went into greater detail about the project, noting that it will be for a solar energy company that has 50 employees and is relocating to the former Ametek site at the redeveloped Sellersville Business Campus. He also noted that it is an $8.5 million project.

For Community & Economic Development, the commissioners approved acceptance of the 2017 grant award for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the amount of $1.781 million revenue. That grant award accompanies the Housing Services department acceptance of $874,504 in revenue for the 2017 grant award for HOME and ESG funding.

During his bi-weekly chief operating officer’s report, COO Brian Hessenthaler complimented the Human Resources department for their work on collective bargaining agreement. The commissioners approved three of the County’s 18 union deals on this agenda, including the Bucks County Detectives Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 835A, and one with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU), Local 668 (in addition to two PSSU amendments). According to Mr. Hessenthaler and Human Resources Director Travis Monroe, 16 of the County’s 18 aforementioned collective bargaining units are now under contract and the expectation is that all 18 will be locked in by February, 2018. “In my time here, we have never had everybody under contract at the same time,” Mr. Hessenthaler noted.

The 19 approved MH/DP contracts included several large ones, among them a $1.924 million renewal with BARC Developmental Services, Inc. of Holicong to provide home and community habilitation services to individuals with intellectual disabilities and early intervention services for children up to age three.

For Neshaminy Manor, the commissioners signed off on a $6.396 million Intergovernmental Transfer Agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Long Term Living, to provide the non-federal share of medical assistance payments to Neshaminy Manor.

For the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), the commissioners committed to a one-year, $204,288 contract increase and extension with the Bucks County Association for Retired and Senior Citizens to provide senior center services through June, 2018.

During his COO report, Mr. Hessenthaler also stated that the County continues to track for a 2018 budget approval at the Dec. 20 Commissioners’ Meeting, the final scheduled public business session of the year. “We plan to approve the budget then,” Chairman Martin added.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, in the Auditorium of Visit Bucks, 3207 Street Rd., Bensalem, PA 19020. For a complete audio account of the December 6, 2017 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.