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Westmoreland Co. to pay $1.6 million on workers' comp insurance

| Thursday, March 16, 2017, 3:15 p.m.

Westmoreland County commissioners authorized the purchase of workers' compensation and liability insurance Thursday after years of being self-insured.

The board voted 2-1 to spend $1.63 million on insurance from Housing and Redevelopment Insurance Exchange, which provides coverage to municipalities and housing and redevelopment authorities in the state. The one-year term begins April 1.

Commissioner Ted Kopas opposed the measure, saying the change will cost the county about $400,000 more this year.

“It's simply a more expensive proposition than we're spending now,” he said.

Employers in Pennsylvania are required to have workers' compensation insurance coverage. Certain employers can get approval from the state to insure themselves for potential liabilities.

“The way we're going right now is not getting the job done,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said. “The proof will be over the next year or so.”

Any claims that arise would be absorbed by the insurance carrier rather than the county, Anderson said.

There are decades-old claims being paid out of a reserve fund, Anderson and Commissioner Gina Cerilli said.

Kopas opposed the move in light of recent cuts to the county's general fund, including $110,000 for seven social service agencies. As of July 1, the county also will eliminate Human Service Development Funds.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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