Thursday, February 11, 2016

Commissioners question $167,000 for copy paper

Facing a budget crunch, county officials are reviewing the spending of every dime. A 13.5 percent spending increase to make copies seemed unreasonable, Commissioner Charles Martin said.

Commissioners question $167,000 for copy paper

Getting a laugh at Wednesday´s Board of Commissioners meeting  are (from left) Brian Hessenthaler, chief operating officer, and Commissioners Charles Martin, Rob Loughery and Diane Ellis-Marseglia. (Bill Reed / Staff)
Getting a laugh at Wednesday's Board of Commissioners meeting are (from left) Brian Hessenthaler, chief operating officer, and Commissioners Charles Martin, Rob Loughery and Diane Ellis-Marseglia. (Bill Reed / Staff)

Bucks County officials, faced with a budget crunch that has forced the lay off of six switchboard operators and probably additional staff, are asking why the government needs to spend $167,000 for copy paper.

"That's significantly more  than we've spent in past years for using paper in copy machines," said Charles Martin, vice chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, at Wednesday's pubic board meeting in Middletown Township. 

"We're using more paper. We should be using less, not more," Martin said. "People are walking around using iPads."

The issue came up as a Purchasing Department request for an annual $167,317.40 contract with Office Basics in Boothwyn. That amount, a projection based on recent usage, is a 13.5 percent increase from the $147,391 budgeted last year.

The contracts run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. In the just-completed year, $142,021 was spent, and the balance, $5,370, remained in the general fund, Purchasing Director Maureen McIlvaine said after the meeting.

Martin wanted to know who was using so much copy paper. McIlvaine responded that she could only say which departments were getting paper. 

"We can't tell how much paper is being used at each copier?" Martin asked. "There's a counter on each copier.

"I have to put in a code to make a copy," the veteran commissioner added. 

"I use your code all the time," Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery quipped, getting a laugh from county department heads, staffers and residents in the audience. 

"No wonder my number is so high," Martin responded with a chuckle. 

McIlvaine said she would check the usage, and Martin, Loughery, and Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia approved the contract.     

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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