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Citing an emergency situation at the county prison, Lebanon County Commissioners approved by a 2-1 vote Thursday a contract with a Georgia firm to provide maintenance services at the facility.
The inability to fill two maintenance position vacancies – including a supervisory position – at the county prison since August led the commissioners to hire Atlanta-based CGl Facility Management LLC at an annual cost of $448,530, or $37,377.50 per month, for calendar year 2023. The one-year contract, which begins Jan. 1, includes an additional one-time, start-up fee of $12,000.
In voting no on the proposal, Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz cited her reservations, including that the company is not based in Pennsylvania, CGI employees will use county-owned tools instead of their own, and that the firm may subcontract work and not perform necessary maintenance and repairs themselves. Litz also added that there is a 10 percent markup rate for materials.
In voting to accept the proposal, Commissioner Michael Kuhn and Chairman Robert Phillips noted that all efforts to hire locally – including advertising the positions and attempting to contract with local maintenance and repair companies – were unsuccessful.
“This is an emergency situation down there that we are trying to address,” said Phillips. “It’s a one-year contract. This is a remedy we’re trying for one year and if we don’t like it and if it’s as horrible as has been suggested, we don’t have to renew it after 2023. We can just test drive it for one year.”
“It’s certainly not my preference to contract somebody to do what we’ve been able to do for many years, and that is hire qualified staff to maintain our prison,” said Kuhn. “But we made best faith efforts to do that, and we are in a very vulnerable position and we leave ourselves open to liability and, really, safety and security issues there. I don’t see that we have much other choice at this point.”
County administrator Jamie Wolgemuth said using county-owned tools is an accountability issue since equipment must be inventoried every time it is used. Additionally, he noted that the company has a track record of success since it has 300 contracts nationwide, including ones with Franklin and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.
The cost, he added, is almost a wash since the savings in salaries and benefits for the two eliminated positions, and eventually the third, are nearly as much as the contract itself. Although costs will increase overall, he added that some of the services – like maintenance monitoring – are new ones that CGI will provide to Lebanon County.
“This company is in the business of correctional maintenance, so they bring a level of expertise to the table for tracking maintenance and that contributes to a higher level of preventive maintenance,” Wolgemuth told LebTown after the meeting.
In other business related to the county prison, commissioners voted to sign a comprehensive health services agreement extension with PrimeCare Medical Inc. of Harrisburg, beginning Jan. 1. PrimeCare Medical offered the county a 1 percent reduction in the annual fee for the renewal period. The new rate for 2023 will be $3.434,643.57.
Commissioners also approved contract amendments for Lebanon County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention. The first was with Gemstone Human Services in the amount of $17,375 for fiscal year 2021-22, the last provider contract to be amended for that year, according to Holly Leahy, administrator of MH/ID/EI.
The other changes involved 11 contracts for fiscal year 2022-23 in the amount of $136,431. Leahy said the largest of those is with Lebanon County Christian Ministries for $58,050.
“This is for their social determinants of health program,” said Leahy. “The social determinants of health address such issues as food insecurity, housing insecurity and utilities.”
Leahy also presented and commissioners approved a contract with Lebanon-based Stewart Masonry Inc. in the amount of $46,808.40 to perform weatherization and renovation services for the exterior of their building located in the 200 block of East Lehman Street.
Read More: Going private: County outsources a portion of mental health services
The facility has been undergoing a number of necessary renovations and repairs for the first time in many years. Leahy told the commissioners the next major project will be the roof, which has recently started to show signs of “bubbling.”
The county also approved professional services contracts for hearing officers and court reporters for its domestic relations department. The contracts, which include a provision to revise termination of the contracts from 90 to 60 days, are for Kristen Lee, Rosamond Presby, and Ellen Wargo. They run from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2025.
Court reporter contracts were approved for Corinne Macian and Kathy Sheffy for work performed for domestic relations.
In other county business, the commissioners:
- Approved a hotel tax grant in the amount of $7,500 for the Community Health Council of Lebanon County to promote its annual Tour de Lebanon Valley, which is slated to be held on June 10, 2023.
- Received a report from South Lebanon Township manager Jamie Yiengst on the expenditure of Marcellus Shale funding for improvements at two township parks. The county provided – and the township matched – $13,534.92 for work performed at South Hills and Avon Memorial parks. New playground equipment was installed, eight surveillance cameras were installed around various areas of South Hills Park, and two sets of bleachers for spectators for baseball and football games were erected. Yingst told the commissioners that the disc golf course at South Hills Park is used every day of the year and the walking trails are populated with pedestrian traffic for individuals who are exercising. Yingst added that there is a plan to repave the trails in 2023.
- Tabled a meeting to discuss C-PACE Act 43 changes to another day since the guest speaker was unable to make the trip from the Poconos due to inclement weather.
- Voted to increase the public safety services fee from .70 cents to $1.20 per capita beginning Jan. 1. The fee has not been raised in at least 25 years, according to Wolgemuth. The fees cover public safety services provided to local municipalities by the county.
- Agreed to supply two letters of support to the state department of Community and Economic Development for H20 PA Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater and PA Small Water and Sewer Line Rehabilitation projects in North Lebanon Township.
- Granted tax exemptions for three fully disabled veterans.
- Accepted the minutes of its Dec. 1 meeting, the treasurer’s report and various personnel transactions.
- Approved a number of nominees or reappointments for various organizations:
- Lebanon Conservation District – Rachel Maulfair, farmer director; John Poff, public director.
- Library System of Lebanon County – Rich Raiders, Annville Free Library; Donald Kline, Palmyra Library. Both director positions are for a three-year period ending on Dec. 31, 2025.
- Lebanon County MH/ID/EI – Sara Fuller, Ann Thompson and Sandy Arnold to a three-year term on the department’s advisory board.
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