Reentry bid goes to GEO with 2-1 vote

After lengthy discussion Thursday, the Lycoming County commissioners chose incumbent GEO Group over Firetree Limited by a 2-1 vote, with Rick Mirabito voting against.

The commissioners elected to choose a vendor for re-entry services and later negotiate a contract with that vendor.

Before the final vote, the commissioners each explained their positions on which organization should receive the contract. Commissioners Tony Mussare and Jack McKernan said they were swayed by the grades given to each group’s proposal by a designated committee.

On a grading scale of 200 that weighed different aspects of both proposals, GEO received a 175 while Firetree received a 112.

“Their recommendation had more weight on my decision than anything else,” Mussare said.

Mirabito said the commissioners agreed to “dig deeper” into both organizations last October to help their decision, but the commissioners only met with GEO. He said Firetree didn’t get the option to negotiate pricing like GEO did.

County solicitor J. Michael Wiley advised that, once the proposals were submitted, the commissioners had the right to negotiate however they saw fit.

Mirabito said “pre-conceived thoughts” about GEO combined with the accusations against Mirabito claiming he had a connection with Firetree Limited may have led to biases among members of the grading committee.

“I’m concerned the misinformation affected grading,” he said.

Also prior to voting, the commissioners allowed for public comment. McIntyre Township Supervisor Al Boyer suggested that, instead of selecting the vendor and then negotiating the contract, the commissioners should finalize their contract and see which vendor can best meet the commissioners’ terms.

Mirabito made a motion echoing Boyer, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Mirabito then motioned to split the contract between GEO and Firetree in order to force competition and see which group best implements the program by the end of the two-year term, but that motion also died for lack of a second.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Accepted a $40,000 anonymous donation to be made in two installments of $20,000 this year and the remaining $20,000 in 2019. The funds will go toward recently completed construction on the English Center bridge, which cost a total of $258,000.

• Awarded a contract for lubrication products in the landfill to PetroChoice on a per item, as-needed basis.

• Approved the purchase of a new portable gas extraction monitor and accessories in the amount of $11,570 to be used for mandatory monthly monitoring of gas wells in the landfill.

• Approved the following personnel actions: reclassification of Frank J. Passaniti as a full-time veterans affairs assistant at $18.08 per hour, retroactive to Oct. 16 as that is when Passaniti received certification; Gary O. Evans as a full-time replacement shipping clerk for Resource Management Services at $17 per hour effective Sunday; Steven M. Simms as a full-time replacement comptroller/business manager for Resource Management Services at $90,000 annually effective Feb. 5; reclassification of Alix N. Hoover as a full-time senior network engineer at $48,278.26 annually effective Sunday; reclassifications of Erika N. Young and Julie A. Ault as full-time clerks for domestic relations at $13.95 per hour effective Sunday; Jeffrey A. Horn as a full-time replacement resident supervisor at the Pre-Release Center at $23.83 per hour effective Sunday.

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Executive Plaza.