Cost change for jobs initiative scrutinized

ERIE, Pa. -- The “Up for the Job” initiative is intended to market the county’s workforce in an attempt to lure jobs to the region. 

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said, "Companies elsewhere in this country were calling the union hall saying send us the names of your laid off workers, we want to entice them to come to our communities. And we're saying no. Let's entice those companies to come to Erie County and that's what Up for the Job is all about."

Marketing firm Ten 53 Newton, LLC was selected in July to help that goal. According to notarized documents, they agreed to render the services for $36,000 over six months.

Those terms have since changed, according to the Erie County Executive’s Office, to $102,000 over 12 months. The proposal indicates that the county would pay $50,000 and $52,000 would come from donations.

But the price change is drawing concern from Erie County Controller Mary Schaaf.

"The original respondents to the RFP were aware of the time element that was involved in it, and they were aware of the specifications,” she said.

Schaaf said any changes from what was announced in March in the Request for Proposal (RFP) is unfair and a violation of the Erie County Purchasing Code.

Erie County Director of Administration Gary Lee said, "The administration is requesting that the county solicitor provides us feedback on the interpretation as it pertains to the Purchasing Code."
Lee said it was determined that the initiative would require additional work, particularly more research. He added that the project is now proposed for two phases with the first portion costing $36,000 for six months.

"There was a chance for the committee and the consultant to really sit down and talk in detail as far as the best way to execute and implement the project,” said Lee.

Schaaf holds firm that “if there are to be any changes in any type of program, then there needs to be a new RFP. It needs to be re-advertised.”

Erie County’s Finance Committee will discuss the the initiative, Ordinance Number 90, 2017, during its meeting Sept. 28.

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