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Elected officials get to keep their health care in Ross

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 11:55 p.m.

Ross will continue to offer health insurance plans for elected officials in the township.

A proposed ordinance that would have phased out the insurance for new commissioners was defeated in a 4-4 vote on Monday night.

The 2014 budget earmarks $98,250 for commissioners' individual and family health insurance plans, which are offered in addition to their $5,000 annual salary.

“I think there are other ways we can do this,” said Commissioner Lana Mazur, who voted against the proposed ordinance. “There are other ways to save taxpayers money and still offer coverage.”

Grace Stanko, Grant Montgomery and David Mikec also voted against the proposal. Peter Ferraro, John Sponcer, Chris Rand Eyster and Daniel DeMarco voted in favor.

There are eight commissioners on the board, with one vacancy because Gerald O'Brien resigned last month to serve as township tax collector.

In an effort to cut spending, the board proposed a plan to eliminate coverage for commissioners elected after 2014 but would grandfather in commissioners who are already enrolled in Highmark's Municipal Employers Trust.

Seven of the nine commissioners are using the benefits this year. Ferraro and Sponcer are not.

DeMarco and O'Brien receive individual coverage; Eyster and Mazur receive parent-child coverage; Stanko receives employee-spouse coverage; and Mikec and Montgomery receive family coverage.

Incoming commissioners Steve Korbel and Jeremy Shaffer, who will be sworn in on Jan. 6, announced during their campaigns that they would not enroll in insurance plans paid for by taxpayers.

All commissioners on the plan voluntarily pay 10 percent of the premium, $500 to $2,000 per year, for coverage, except for Stanko.

Commissioners' compensation is set in accordance wtih the Pennsylvania First Class Township Code, but insurance coverage is discretionary. Ross has offered commissioners insurance for more than 15 years.

Many townships do not offer commissioners insurance, though Shaler offers individual coverage if no other coverage is available.

The township budgeted $11,000 for insurance in 2013 but spent about $7,000, said Shaler Manager Timothy Rogers.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or kshea@tribweb.com.

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