SUNBURY - Northumberland County commissioners reported Tuesday that hiring a food service contractor to provide meals to inmates will save the county approximately $200,000 per year.

During Tuesday's commissioners' meeting, county Controller Tony Phillips announced bids for food service providers for the prison were received from Aramark of Philadelphia ($1.399 per meal) and Canteen Correctional Services of Charlotte, N.C. ($1.875 per prime meal and $1.56 per basic meal).

The bids will be tabulated for further review by prison Warden Roy Johnson, who will then make a recommendation to the commissioners on which firm to hire. The commissioners said negotiations also will be conducted with the two full-time prison cooks, who are union employees, to determine their future employment options before a contract is awarded at a future meeting.

When contacted Tuesday night, Brian Wheary, operations commander at the prison, said no jobs will be lost if a private vendor is hired by the county. "We will just reassign the cooks as correctional officers," he said. "No jobs will be eliminated."

Commissioner Vinny Clausi said the meals, which are currently prepared in-house, cost the county approximately $600,000 per year. By hiring the lowest bidder (Aramark), Clausi and fellow Commissioner Frank Sawicki said the county will save approximately $200,000 per year for inmate meals.

"We are moving fast in the county to save money in all areas," Clausi commented.

Sawicki added, "Hiring a private vendor to provide meals at the prison is just one way the county will realize ongoing savings."

In other business, Sawicki reported eight used vehicles were sold for a total of $6,400 during a July 23 public auction at the county transportation garage.