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Supervisor Health Care Provision Assailed at Marlborough Meeting
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2019-12-18

            The furor over Marlborough Township's new health care ordinance attracted a much larger than normal crowd to the monthly supervisor's meeting on December 11.

            The ordinance allows Marlborough's part-time employees to buy into, at 100 percent of the cost, the township's health plan.

            It also contains a controversial provision that allows the supervisors to join the township's health plan for free, permissible under state law.

            The ordinance was passed in October at the monthly workshop meeting.

            Currently, Chairman Brian Doremus is the only supervisor eligible for the benefit because of his recent re-election. Billy Hurst and Bill Jacobs will be eligible if and when they are re-elected, although they can potentially buy in now.

            Several speakers addressed the three-man board of supervisors in the opening comment session and all objected to supervisor participation in the plan.

            "Why would the citizens of Marlborough want to be paying for your health care insurance? I would like to see this repealed," resident Joann Moyer said, drawing applause from some members of the audience.

            "I would like to ask the three board members again, what would be your position if you were re-elected?" asked Moyer, also a member of the Planning Commission.

            But Moyer never got an answer to her question because Doremus stepped in, as he did at several points during the session, and reminded the audience that this was a time for comments only.

            "Questions aren't really relevant at this point," Doremus said.

            In response to another resident, Doremus replied, "We addressed this issue in October when it was publicly advertised. We answered all the questions and comments at that point. Tonight, it's not on the agenda."

            Later in the meeting, resident Elaine Hannock pointed out, "To be clear, this was not done at October's township meeting, this was done during the workshop meeting. Is that correct?"

            Doremus defended the vote's venue by pointing out that workshop meetings are regularly scheduled township meetings.

            Resident Jim Miller said, "I would like to request that a date be set at an upcoming supervisors meeting to discuss this health coverage ordinance. I think, as you can hear from the applause, there's a great concern that it's not really a wise move. Perhaps you'd like to provide us with a period of time when we could discuss it rather than just hear you say, 'Thank you.'"

            Doremus replied, "The board will take that under consideration."

            Supervisor Jacobs spoke after most audience members had expressed their opinions.

            "I wish I had heard from you folks before. Am I open to reconsidering this? Yes, I am. Maybe we should put it on our agenda so that we can look at the numbers again, numbers that I just didn't know. We really had very little time to discuss. There was very little said about the health ordinance."

            Former Marlborough supervisor Charlie Walters observed, "It seems to me that this ordinance was something the kids passed while the adults weren't paying attention."

            The ordinance will stand as is unless the supervisors put it on the agenda for amendment or repeal. In response to a question about how the amendment or repeal process would work, Doremus declined to explain.

            Among the items that were on the agenda for the night was the 2020 budget.

            "With the increased carryover from 2018, a slight increase in revenue and the conservative spending that we have done, the 2020 general fund budget will see a beginning projected balance of a $480,000 surplus going into 2020," Township Manager Marybeth Cody reported.

            No tax increase will be needed and millage remains at 2.25.

            Marlborough will have a projected surplus of approximately $279,840 for carryover into 2021, according to Cody.

            In her report, Cody touted the many projects that were completed in 2019 including: Finland Road Park improvements, the floating dock at Lake Skymount, new furniture, TV monitors, a new security system, lighting improvements, computer upgrades, the "outright purchase" of a police vehicle and the addition of a new police officer.

            The only projected "large purchase" for 2020 is a new maintenance truck, and the budget includes pay raises for all uniformed and non-uniformed employees.

            Jacobs delivered a cautionary note after listening to Cody's presentation.  "I do have to point out the problem that I had with this. We will be spending $200,000 more than what we're taking in. That's a concern to me. Because of that, I won't be voting for this budget. I would rather see things balanced so that we don't deplete our savings."

            Jacobs brought up the potential costs of the Reihman Road bridge repair or replacement as an unavoidable issue "looming over" the township.

            "I disagree with Bill's concern," Doremus said, "because if you look at the history, it's similar numbers that have occurred in the previous years. So, our estimates moving forward are conservative. We didn't anticipate that we would have anywhere close to the $400,000 number going into this year. So, I'm anticipating the same situation because we're balancing in the same direction plus investing in ourselves."

            The budget passed 2-1.

            The supervisors accepted the resignation "with regret" of Gerald Shea from the Planning Commission.

            Doremus thanked Shea, who is relocating, for his service. "You've been a valuable asset to that organization."

            The Planning Commission was then recognized and conducted what amounted to a brainstorming session with the supervisors related to matters of zoning, grant funding, township regulations and improvements as they tried to set a direction for the coming years.

            Later in the meeting, a recruiter for the Census Team gave her pitch for applying for jobs as the country prepares for the 2020 census. People who want to apply for part-time census jobs, which pay $16.50 to $22.50 per hour, can apply at 2020census.gov/jobs.

            A link to an informational flyer on census-taking is available from Marlborough Township's website (marlboroughpa.org).

            There will be no workshop meeting this month. The supervisors will meet next on Monday, January 6 at 7 p.m. for their organizational meeting. The regular monthly Board of Supervisors meeting will follow.


 

 

 

 

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