Lehigh Valley

Battle brewing over Northampton County's hiring of PR firm

Battle brewing over Northampton County's hiring of PR firm

EASTON, Pa. - Some Northampton County Council members have sued a county executive before, and now they are hoping they don't have to do it again.

A battle has been brewing since county Executive John Brown paid $84,000 to a public relations firm to handle county communications.

Some on council called the executive order illegal and said it should have gone through the bidding process.

The discussion lasted 40 minutes in the Northampton County Council chambers Thursday night, and a lot of questions were raised.

"I think if you are going to pay Sahl Communications and Ms. Plyer $84,000 in one year, I would hope you say that the services she is going to provide the county are professional services," added Councilman Lamont McClure.

McClure drafted a resolution to repeal the contract because he said the services should have gone through the bidding process.

"When you're spending 84,000 of taxpayer money on a public relations consultant, you ought to bid that out competitively," added McClure

Northampton County Executive John Brown hired Sahl Communications through an executive order to handle county communications.

Northampton County Solicitor Victor Scomillio explained the move.

"It has used over the years this source mechanism countless different ways, from the county risk manager to consultants for move operations, purchasing of buildings and engineering services," he said.

McClure and others said they feel the contract violates the county administrative code because it is a professional service and should have used the request for proposal process.

Northampton County Council members recently sued Stoffa over a similar issue regarding ambulance services.

Council tabled McClures' resolution to repeal the contract, for now, and McClure hopes that more drastic measure won't be needed.

"It may very well end up in front of a judge and I hope it doesn't," said McClure. "No one wins when these issues go to court."

69 News left several messages for Brown and at Sahl Communications. None of those calls has been returned.

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