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Plum officials might spend extra $40,000 on fire truck

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Borough officials hope to spend some extra money in the budget on a fire truck.

Councilman Michael Dell said during a council meeting Monday night that the borough's 2013 payment for worker's compensation insurance for volunteer firefighters in the four Plum departments is about half the amount officials anticipated.

“We budgeted $80,000,” said Dell, council's finance committee chairman

“It came in at $40,000. We anticipated a larger increase.”

The borough budgeted more money to cover the 2013 payment because of the fallout from a year-old state law that enables volunteer firefighters to collect benefits if they develop cancer after being exposed to carcinogens at fire scenes.

The borough paid $41,950 for the coverage in 2012. Manager Michael Thomas budgeted $83,000 for 2013.

PennPRIME Insurance Trust dropped worker's compensation coverage resulting in municipalities, including Plum, signing up for coverage through the State Workers' Insurance Fund, or SWIF, at what was expected to be a a higher cost because of a lack of private-insurer alternatives.

Dell said the existence of the borough's worker's compensation safety committee consisting of borough staff and other officials helped keep the payment at the 2012 level.

He added the borough's low number of claims helped keep the premium amount at $40,000.

Dell said the money that is not being used for the insurance payment will help pay for a new fire truck for the Unity Volunteer Fire Department.

Unity President Ira Helfer said the department last purchased a ladder truck eight years ago.

Helfer said he expects a new pumper to cost about $500,000.

The Logans Ferry Volunteer Fire Department in 2008 was the last company to purchase a new truck through the borough's apparatus replacement program.

The program, which uses borough funds to help fire departments buy vehicles, was discontinued in recent years because of a lack of money in the fire fund.

“We want to get the program back on track,” Dell said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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