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Penn-Trafford rec board OKs opt-out for director

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By Chris Foreman
Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

With a 4-3 vote, the Penn-Trafford Area Recreation Commission board decided Monday to give director Cheryl Kemerer a $250 monthly payment for opting out of health insurance funded by the rec group to join Hempfield Township's plan.

That payment is about half of the $490 monthly payment that Kemerer requested. Because PTARC reimburses Penn Township for covering Kemerer on the township's plan, Kemerer said, she was entitled to the same opt-out benefit that township employees get — a 50-percent payment of the employee's premium.

After rejecting a monthly payment of $500 for the rest of her term as director, Nick Petrucci, Larry Harrison, Joy Clontz and Rita Windsor agreed to pay Kemerer $250.

PTARC will save money in the 2014 budget when Kemerer joins Hempfield's health care plan at the end of the month. The organization budgeted $13,000 — $1,083 per month — for Kemerer's expenses this year.

Earlier this year, a Westmoreland County judge ruled Kemerer is eligible for lifetime medical benefits from Hempfield, her former employer, despite being fired by officials in that community in 2002.

Petrucci, a longtime Penn-Trafford School Board member, said he couldn't justify giving Kemerer an opt-out benefit that is 2.5 times the $200 that school-district employees and retirees receive.

“I can talk face-to-face with a Penn-Trafford employee and say, ‘We gave her $250, but she's supposed to get $500, and we just went halfway,'” Petrucci said. “I can say that, and it doesn't bother me.”

Dreistadt, Bruce Light and Toni Ising voted against the $250 payment, though for different reasons.

Ising said she opposed paying Kemerer a monthly opt-out higher than the school district's $200 opt-out payment.

Dreistadt and Light — who, like Petrucci, are founding PTARC members — said Kemerer's health benefits always have been treated the same as a township employee's. They favored a $500 monthly cap.

“I, personally, think it's immoral to change someone's offering midway in the stream,” Light said.

Board members said setting a cap was significant because Penn Township's insurance premiums continue to go up. Kemerer said the increase for the next plan year is estimated to be 30 percent.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or

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