Carbon County Commissioners on Thursday renewed a contract with First Priority/Blue Care PPO to administer the county's health care program. The one-year agreement carries a modest increase in costs.

"First Priority Blue Care has administered that program for us on a year-to-year basis," said Commissioners' Chairman William O'Gurek.

The cost for this new contract rose modestly, he said, from $57.17 to $60.60 per contract per month.

"That's per month per employee," he said.

Two hundred and fifty-four full-time county employees are covered under the plan, so the increase comes to about $10,500 in administration fees, for a total of about $184,000 to First Priority Blue Care to administer the program.

The county is self-insured, so it pays the claims.

"The real benefit" of having First Priority Blue Care administer the plan, O'Gurek said, "is that we get a near-50 percent discount, which is basically the Blue Cross rate that is accepted by providers."

This year, the county has budgeted $3,133,000 for medical coverage for employees. That includes health care, prescription drugs, vision, stop-loss insurance and administration.

In other matters Thursday, commissioners agreed to amend a Local Share Account grant with the state Department of Community and Economic Development to extend the grant to June 30, 2012.

The extension gives the county more time to obtain the permits it needs to begin work on the Packerton Business Park. The 59-acre business park, in the former Packerton Rail Yards, is expected to eventually create about 350 jobs.

There are two Local Share Accounts, each of about $600,000. That money will be used to match other grant funds.

"We just can't start spending it until we have the permits in place," O'Gurek said of the extension.

The business park, O'Gurek said, "is a work in progress." The county bought the land in 2005 for $350,000.

Commissioners are now waiting for the state Department of Transportation to issue a highway occupancy permit that would allow the county to build a new access to the park, at Packerton Dam Road. The current access is at Packerton Dip.

The county expects to meet with PennDOT soon to discuss details of the permit, which must be in place by July 1 or the county risks losing $1 million in grant money.

The county has leveraged $5.1 million in grants to pay for the project.

The business park project is coming along. Last week, commissioners signed off on a sewage agreement with the Mahoning Township Municipal Authority to buy 37 Equivalent Dwelling Unit connections for a total of $162,800, or $4,400 per EDU.

Also on Thursday, commissioners agreed to ask to modify a Criminal Justice Advisory Board subgrant to cover half the cost of developing specifications for the installation of a security door at the Carbon County Correctional Facility.

The door is needed to provide a secure area for the Live Scan electronic fingerprinting and photographing system.

The Live Scan unit is not in a secure area. It's in a room off a corridor, which is connected to central command, next to the prison's main lobby.

"It had been suggested to us that we needed a separate door for that. So we hired Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates of Mechanicsburg to develop the specifications to put that project out on bid," said O'Gurek.

The county plans to use grant money for the project. "This modification, because we're in the year where it's 50 percent reimbursement, is asking the CJAB grant to pay 50 percent of the $8,000 that we paid Crabtree Rohrbaugh to write the specifications.