SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

Bellezza Salon & Spa of Allentown, which has been providing barber and beauty services to residents of Lehigh County's Cedarbrook nursing homes for the last three years, won't be getting a new contract from the county commissioners.

On Wednesday night Mary Hazzard, Cedarbrook's assistant administrator, told commissioners the proposal submitted by that company "was deemed non-responsible" and it was disqualified.

"That seems a little odd to me that someone who's done it for three years submits a non-responsible bid," said Commissioner Brad Osborne. "Are you at liberty to tell us what the defect was?"

"All I can say is we've had issues with the provider over the term of the contract," said Hazzard. "I prefer not to go into detail about those issues at this time." She told commissioners she would share that information with them privately, if any were interested.

She added: "For those reasons, we did not feel comfortable accepting their proposal."

Elaborating slightly, Hazzard told Commissioner Vic Mazziotti: "In view of their performance, we did not feel they fulfilled the requirements of the request for proposals."

After the meeting, Osborne said: "I'm uncomfortable with the outcome of the process. I just found it unusual that a firm that held the contract for three years was suddenly not able to tender a 'responsible' offer and yet no reason was given for their rejected proposal."

Acting on Hazzard's recommendation, the commissioners unanimously approved a professional services agreement with LA Hair, Inc., of Penndel, southern Bucks County.

It's a two-year contract, beginning April 1, but can be extended for up to two additional years.

L.A. Hair was "the most responsible, lowest-cost provider" that responded to Cedarbrook's request for proposals for hair services, said Hazzard. "L.A. Hair offered the most competitive pricing and we have a history with them."

She said Cedarbrook has used L.A. Hair before, in 2006 and 2007. She said Cedabrook officials know it is "a quality and qualified provider."

Hazzard told county commissioners Cedarbrook received three responses to its request for proposals.

She said the third company that submitted a proposal was Senior Salon Services of Marlton, N.J. She said its estimated annual fee came in at $535,821, which Osborne noted was significantly higher than L.A. Hair's estimate of $320,411.

Hazzard said L.A. Hair's estimate is higher than what is being charged by the current provider, "but we suspected they would go up anyway because prices have been flat for the last three years."