Insurance coverage for LCTA board members raises questions

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Throughout a packed voting agenda Tuesday, Luzerne County Councilman Walter Griffith revealed his discovery that county Transportation Authority board members previous and current have been receiving authority-funded life insurance coverage.

Council members expressed disappointment the perk was offered and mentioned it violates the county’s residence rule constitution, which solely authorizes compensation for one exterior county board that oversees property evaluation appeals.

Council has an curiosity within the authority as a result of the county gives an annual funding match and appoints its 9 board members.

Griffith mentioned the authority’s granting of insurance coverage to its board members is “obscene,” significantly as a result of the authority is arguing it desires to attempt to save cash by way of a request earlier than council to type a committee to assessment its potential consolidation with the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS).

A council majority agreed Tuesday to type that committee whereas making it clear it additionally ought to embody Hazleton Public Transit, which gives transportation within the county’s southern half. Council representatives on the committee can be introduced later.

In response to Griffith’s inquiries concerning the life insurance coverage, transportation authority Finance Director Randy Lisman despatched an electronic mail to county officers stating present board members are supplied a $45,000 fundamental time period life insurance coverage coverage that prices the authority $291.60 per yr for every member, or $2,624.40 for the whole nine-member board.

There are additionally 14 former board members who obtain a $10,000 fundamental time period life insurance coverage coverage that prices the authority $61.20 per individual yearly, for a complete value of $856.80 to the authority, Lisman’s electronic mail mentioned.

In whole, the authority spends $3,481.20 yearly to offer life insurance coverage to present and former board members, it mentioned.

Griffith mentioned he was knowledgeable the life insurance coverage dated again to 2005 and expects the authority will finish the perk now that it has been uncovered. Council Chairman Tim McGinley mentioned he has requested the county regulation division to assessment the insurance coverage advantages and whether or not they violated any ethics or different constitution prohibitions.

Later within the assembly, council appointed residents to fill two vacant seats on the transportation authority: Thomas Bindus and Gary Polakoski.

Different issues

• Tax assortment

Council postponed a call on tax assortment.

Councilman Harry Haas urged his colleagues to delay a call, saying council has not acquired all info, together with a whole evaluation on the financial savings the county may understand switching from elected collectors to in-house assortment.

Additionally on maintain is a vote on granting requested raises to the county’s 68 elected collectors in the event that they proceed receiving county tax funds when their subsequent phrases start in 2022.

Tax collector adjustments have to be permitted earlier than potential collectors begin circulating and submitting nomination petitions on Feb. 16 to seem on the Could 18 major election poll.

Solely three of the 11 council members opposed the postponement: Robert Schnee, Matthew Vough and McGinley.

• Tax break

A majority permitted tax break for a $500 million mission to assemble 5 warehousing and manufacturing constructions totaling 5.5 million sq. toes on a tract badly scarred from previous coal mining and two dumps in Hazleton and Hazle Township.

Underneath the break, new constructions can be added to the tax rolls after 10 years, although taxes on the land have to be paid all through the last decade.

4 voted towards the break, with some citing disagreement concerning the wording: Stephen J. City, Griffith, Haas and Linda McClosky Houck.

• Constitution poll questions

A council majority rejected Griffith’s proposals to put two charter-change questions on the Could 18 major poll for voters to determine.

The primary would have modified the election board from 5 residents to a seven-member physique of 4 residents and three county council members.

4 council members supported placing this query on the poll: City, Griffith, Haas and LeeAnn McDermott.

Griffith’s second query would have requested voters to permit council to rent its personal solicitor as an alternative of counting on the county regulation workplace.

Along with Griffith, City, Haas and McClosky Houck voted for the query.

• Flood Authority

A majority voted to nominate Gordon Dussinger to the county Flood Safety Authority, a board of 5 residents that oversees the Wyoming Valley Levee system.

4 council members had as an alternative supported the reappointment of previous county Emergency Administration Company director Kevin O’Brien — City, Griffith, Haas and McClosky Houck. Haas mentioned the authority “simply misplaced a number of knowledge” with the departure of O’Brien.

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