December 6, 2012
Commissioners Travel to Bristol Township's Dow Chemical Company for December 5 Business Meeting
In its penultimate business meeting of 2012, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners visited the corporate complex of The Dow Chemical Company in Bristol Township. The facility, formerly home to Rohm & Haas, employs 250 workers who focus on everyday products for the construction and building industries, according to Public Affairs Manager Justin Land. As a corporate citizen, Dow supports Bucks County initiatives such as the American Red Cross and United Way, among others. Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery thanked Dow for its hospitality and use of its large conference room, noting that the effort to visit Bucks County businesses for commissioners' business will continue during 2013.
The meeting opened with a moment of silence and a solemn remembrance of Bucks County Judge Isaac Garb, who passed away this week. Chairman Loughery thanked Judge Garb for his "many years" of service to the county, asking meeting attendees to remember his family at this difficult time.
The three-member board of Loughery, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW unanimously passed 38 contract resolutions involving 15 county departments. One of those resolutions, a Finance contract to amend the General Fund Reserve Policy for the County, will have a direct impact on the 2013 Operating Budget that was highlighted during a public meeting on the evening of Tuesday, December 4 in the Courthouse Community Room. The Finance resolution will remove the $75 million Behavioral Health portion of funding from the 2013 budget as it applies to the 10 percent "General Fund Reserve" currently in place. "This (Behavioral Health funding) is a complete pass through," Chairman Loughery explained, also calling on Finance Director David Boscola to explain the proposal. "Our fund policy needs to be geared to our operating budget," the chairman added. Chairman Loughery also noted that the Behavioral Health funding has its own cash reserve of more than $11 million. According to Mr. Boscola, the removal of Behavioral Health monies from the 2013 Operating Budget will reduce the total from $467.5 million to approximately $392 million.
The commissioners also approved 10 General Services' contracts, including a trio of bridge repairs - $26,738 for County Bridge No. 54 on King Rd. in New Britain Township, $326,534 for County Bridge No. 162 on Street Rd. in Solebury Township, and $56,290 for County Bridge No. 222 on Old Easton Rd. in Nockamixon Township. County Director of Special Projects Joe Bush explained that ongoing work on a limited list of the 115 county-owned-and-maintained bridges is aimed at additional structural work mandated in the wake of storms over the last two years. The approved General Services contracts also included four agreements to extend the final completion date for Phase I of the Churchville Nature Center addition until March 30, 2013.
For the Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol Township, the board approved a $60,000 (state funded) contract for design services to create new displays at the facility. It is a frequent field trip destination for students in the lower end of the county.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler touched on three items during his bi-monthly report, including a letter from the commissioners to PEMA regarding storm damage reimbursement for county bridges that were impacted. He recapped the December 4 Public Budget Meeting by underscoring the commissioners' goal to eliminate a $2.7 million gap between revenues and expenditures in the 2013 Operating Budget "without raising taxes or dipping into the General Fund (which is projected at $44.3 million at the end of 2012)." He also reminded attendees that the 4th Annual Bucks County Project Blue Light wreath lighting will take place in the Courthouse Rotunda at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 6. The event is conducted in conjunction with the Bucks County Police Chiefs Association and Bucks County Sheriff Duke Donnelly and honors the 12 county law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since 1914.
The meeting also included one proclamation, as Commissioner Marseglia recognized the Tree of Hope as the county's symbol of support from the ravages of addiction. For the 22nd year, the Tree of Hope will be displayed throughout the holiday season at the Bucks County Courthouse, decorated with personalized ornaments that bear the names or initials of people who have directly or indirectly experienced addiction. A dedication ceremony will be held December 12, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the first floor lobby of the Courthouse.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, 3201 Street Rd., Bensalem, PA 19020. For a complete audio account of the December 5 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.