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2015 News

Commissioners Address State Budget Impasse during Brief Nov. 18 Business Meeting in Doylestown

November 18, 2015

A commissioners’ business meeting that was noteworthy for the absence of one board member took on an entirely new meaning during the commissioners’ comment portion of the 29-minute session November 18 in the Bucks County Administration Building Community Room. Although Commissioner Charles H. Martin was not in attendance, Chairman Robert G. Loughery and Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW unanimously approved 11 contract resolutions involving seven County departments. Moments later, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler explained that Bucks County plans to unveil its preliminary 2016 Operating Budget at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Mr. Hessenthaler then referenced the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania budget impasse, which stood at 141 days. Chairman Loughery expanded on Mr. Hessenthaler’s comments.

Members of the committee for #GivingTuesdayBucks, a day to build awareness and give a gift that makes an impact.“We are 141 days into the state calendar year without a budget (i.e. since July 1, 2015),” Chairman Loughery said. “The County, throughout this whole time, has not only paid our required portion… but we’ve paid the state’s portion (for services). The cost to the County has been roughly $6.5-7 million a month. So far we have spent over $22 million (not counting November bills that will come due). Fortunately we’ve been able to do that because we have a reserve fund. However, there’s only so much money that we can draw upon.”

Chairman Loughery, calling the impasse “not fair to the residents of Bucks County,” has joined Commissioners Martin and Marseglia to charge Chief Operating Officer Hessenthaler and Director of Finance and Administration David Boscola to craft a solution that would not require the County to borrow money to pay its bills during the Harrisburg stalemate. The chairman proposed working with the County row officers to withhold payment of certain state fees (using an escrow account) until such time as the County has been reimbursed by the state. “This isn’t going to happen overnight,” he added. “It would be an I.O.U. – I pay you when you pay me.”

Bucks County Register of Wills Don Petrille and Clerk of Courts Mary Smithson were in attendance, offering to work with the commissioners on the proposed idea, which will be addressed with the state secretary of revenue.

Steven Wouch, Chairman of the Board of EFEPA accepts a proclamation for Epilepsy Awareness MonthThe meeting opened with a moment of silence and Chairman Loughery asking those assembled to keep in mind “the families and people in Paris (site of the Nov. 13 terrorism attacks). The two commissioners issued three proclamations, honoring November as “Epilepsy Awareness Month,” designating Tuesday, Dec. 1 as “Giving Tuesday” throughout the county and recognizing the a capella singing group Cordus Mundi upon the occasion of its 10th anniversary. Rick Rosen,

the founder and artistic director of Cordus Mundi, thanked the commissioners for their recognition and led the room in a couple lines of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

The business agenda portion included approval of a one-year, $217,841 contract renewal with NHS Youth Services, Inc. of Harrisburg to provide residential treatment, emergency shelter and community based care, a $158,090 contract increase and extension with Zelenkofske Axelrod, LLC of Harrisburg to provide auditing services for the 2015 calendar year, and a $2.528 million 2015 grant award from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME program and the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program. The board also approved two Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) items for habilitation, supported living and other services, including one-year contracts with Access Services, Inc. of Fort Washington, PA for $447,969 and LifePath, Inc. of Bethlehem, PA for $214,222 as well as a one-year, $324,680 grant renewal with the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services.

Rick Rosen, Founder/Artistic Director, Cordus Mundi, accepts a proclamation for Cordus Mundi Day, celebrating their tenth anniversary.Chief Clerk Lynn T. Bush reminded residents that the final Electronics Recycling event of the year will take place on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the FDR Middle School, 1001 Veterans Highway, Bristol, PA 19007. “This is a good opportunity to get rid of some things,” Ms. Bush said. A list of items that can be dropped off is available on the County website, recycling page.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 4 p.m. (please note time) on Wednesday, Dec. 2 in the Bucks County Administration Building Community Room (1st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901. For a complete audio account of the November 18, 2015 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.