While former Foster Township supervisor Jim Connelly Jr. won’t have a final say on the township’s budget this year, he made sure to give his two cents during a workshop meeting of the board held on Thursday night.
Connelly, who stepped down as a supervisor earlier this year, encouraged the supervisors to have township employees pay health insurance copays and deductibles, a move that would provide a big savings to the municipality.
Supervisor George Hocker said he is up for savings, but would rather focus on bigger-ticket items. However, Hocker said will look into the health care insurance matter.
To prove a point, Connelly jumped back into history, recalling some savings made since 2010 when he served as a supervisor.
“We didn’t just spend a dollar. We spent a dollar, we tried to make it pay for itself down the road, such as the new insulation, the new heaters, you’re aware of some of the things we did,” Connelly said.
The supervisors rebid the trash collection, a savings of $2,028; changed the phone system, a $887 savings; paid $500 less in switching a solicitor; and paid off a loan, a $14,000 savings.
“But the big one was the health care insurance, making — this is just the non-union — 15 percent of their health care,” Connelly said.
That came to a savings of $15,0127.80, according to Connelly.
“And we all know that health care is very, very expensive,” Connelly said.
Hocker said he is seeing a health care insurance savings for the township, but did not go into details.
“Well, you can see more of a savings if you would ask,” Connelly said.
Connelly said the supervisors would have to begin with non-union employees, asking them to pay copays and deductibles. Then when it’s time to bargain with the Teamsters union, officials could say other workers are paying those.
“Because that’s the first thing they’re going to ask you,” Connelly said.
There might be a savings now, but that could change come summer. Health insurance rates are due to go up in July, and Hocker said he is unsure what that will look like for the township.
Even so, Connelly is a proponent of employees contributing more toward their health care.
“I don’t think we’re asking a lot of the employees in this township to pay what everybody else is paying,” Connelly said. “They are contributing some toward their health care, which is fine. I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask employees here to pay copays and deductibles just like the rest of us have to pay.”
The procedure of reimbursing township employees for copays “is a joke. It’s unheard of, especially in these times,” Connelly said.
“It’s not an easy job going in the back room and telling people you work with, ‘Hey, I’m going to ask you to pay may more on your insurance,’ but it’s something that’s got to be done,” Connelly said. “It’s a big savings.”
Connelly suggests involving the regular employees, then unionized employees, followed by the Fraternal Order of Police in paying copays and deductibles. Any changes with the Fraternal Order of Police would come next year, though.
“You save the taxpayers thousands of dollars. This isn’t nickels and dimes we’re talking about. This is thousands of dollars,” Connelly said.
More money could be saved elsewhere in other areas that township officials are concentrating on currently, Hocker said.
“Drastically more. We’re talking more than just a couple thousand,” Hocker said. “We’re talking $20,000 to $30,000 on a project’s savings compared to $4,000 on a health care,” he said.
At the meeting, Connelly asked where Hocker got the $4,000 figure.
Connelly said having those kind of health care changes would not bring tens of thousands of dollars in savings. The move in 2010 to have a savings amounted to $15,000 for non-union employees.
Hocker said he would investigate the health care matter.
Also during the work session, residents expressed concern over speeding by large trucks on Seaward Avenue.
A resident said he is worried that a big truck would hit a bus with children inside, causing fatalities. He said the vehicles are going 50 mph.
“It’s not just once a day. It’s all of the time,” he said.
Hocker said he would consult with township police chief Tom Munn about the situation.
Connelly suggested bringing out “Foster,” a dummy, that could be stationed in a police car to impersonate a police officer so drivers slow down.
“He got used a couple of times,” Connelly said.
Supervisor Dale Phillips was absent from Thursday’s meeting.