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For Centre commissioners, price is right

By CHRIS MORELLI

cmorelli@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE — For the Centre County commissioners, the price was finally right.

At last week’s commissioners’ meeting, commissioner Mark Higgins and county controller Chuck Witmer went a couple of rounds about a small item that was pulled from the consent agenda — a letter of agreement with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP to conduct an annual audit, which is required by PennDOT. The audit focuses on financial and service operations for the Centre County Transportation Department.

The contract total was originally estimated at between $8,000 and $10,000 — much higher than previous years. On Tuesday, however, Witmer was back with good news.

“At the board’s request, I communicated back to Baker Tilly asking that the cost be reduced to $6,500. They have accepted that. If it acceptable to the board, (Baker Tilly) will prepare a new letter of engagement and forward it for signatures,” Witmer said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe was appreciative.

“We really appreciate the amicable resolution on this one,” he said.

Witmer cleared up any confusion about how the process works for future boards.

“The controller recommends, the board approves,” Witmer stated.

According to Pipe, the money wasn’t the only issue at hand.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s important that we follow county code and adhere to that,” Pipe said.

The commissioners were pleased that a resolution was reached.

“We appreciate the fact that they’re going from $8,000-$10,000 to $6,500,” Pipe said.

Higgins agreed.

“I’d like to thank Baker Tilly for reducing the cost of the audit from a maximum of $10,000 to a firm cost of $6,500. I know we need to do this audit and it’s important for the transportation department. About $2 million of state funding depends on it,” Higgins said.

Commissioner Steve Dershem said that in the future, he’d like to see all audits under the same umbrella, an idea originally proposed by Pipe.

“I think there’s some merit to your point, Michael, about putting this all under one umbrella in the future so that when we put this out for bid, it’s all done and we don’t have to think about any more auditing issues,” Dershem said.

In other business, the commissioners:

∫ Tabled a contract award for the card access controls system upgrade project. County deputy administrator Bob Jacobs asked that the project be re-advertised for bids. The project will be re-advertised from Sept. 5 through Sept. 9.

Pipe said that the bid threshold is $25,000 and that all of the bidders have exceeded that cost.

“This gives us a few more weeks to make sure that we can get the best cost,” he said.

∫ Tabled a contract award for the RFP for the design/replacement of the Holt Memorial Library HVAC system.

The county received just one bid, that coming from Joseph C. Hazel in Bellefonte.

“We had the opportunity to go through the bid and review it. After review, we feel very comfortable with what they’re proposing,” said Mike Bloom, assistant director of planning and community development.

The county will now enter contract negotiations with Joseph C. Hazel. The Holt Memorial Library is located in Philipsburg.

∫ Approved a cooperative agreement with the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority to receive a reimbursement in the amount of $34,000 through the Keystone Communities Grant for installation of a meter pit vault and other system upgrades.

∫ Approved a cooperative agreement with the Haines-Woodward Municipal Authority to receive a reimbursement in the amount of $14,000 through the Keystone Communities Grant for testing/development of a secondary water source.

The commissioners will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte.

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