2012-04-12 / Front Page

Council Reverses Decision On Workers’ Comp

Members vote 5-2 to pay insurance for paid ambulance personnel
By Jean Snyder
STAFF WRITER

Following a meeting with the McConnellsburg Volunteer Fire Co. chief and paramedics last Wednesday evening, McConnellsburg Borough Council reversed a vote it took in December 2011 regarding the payment of workers’ compensation for paid members of the fire company.

After much discussion late last year regarding the payment, which is additional to the payment of workers’ compensation for volunteer firefighters, council voted to pay the insurance for 2012 and then to discontinue payment for any future years. The nearly $10,000 in additional fees was shared among the borough, Ayr, Todd and Licking Creek townships for 2011. The borough’s share was just over $2,000, but borough secretary Jack Fields estimated future payments for the borough’s share at more than $4,000.

The borough is required by law to pay workers’ compensation for all volunteer fire company volunteers, but it has just been recently that the additional charges for paid personnel have come to light.

Fire Chief “Pete” Lynch, along with full-time paramedic John Rice of Mercersburg, spoke to council and gave a report on the paramedic activity and asked the council to reconsider paying its share for the calendar year 2013.

Councilman Rick Buterbaugh has opposed the extra payment, asking why it isn’t absorbed in the company’s budget. He has also said that he has a problem with the paramedics making routine transports that should be covered under the existing volunteer policy.

Currently the McConnellsburg company has one full-time and five part-time paramedics to operate the advanced life support (ALS) unit and to assist the basic life support (BLS) staff.

Although Lynch and Rice asked council to think about reversing its decision prior to 2013, following the meeting with them, council voted 5-2 on a Jim Smith/David Washabaugh motion to pay the borough’s share in 2013, reversing the earlier decision.

On a roll-call vote, five members of the council voted in favor of the motion while Councilman Buterbaugh and Councilwoman Pat Frazier voted “no” on the motion. Frazier explained her vote, saying, “I totally support and appreciate the paramedics and I know our community needs the service, but I can’t see voting on something that we don’t have in the budget (because the 2013 budget will not be prepared until November), and that we have no idea what the cost will be for 2013.” Frazier went on to say that she would have likely voted in favor of the payment if she knew the cost of it.

Buterbaugh agreed, saying he wanted more information and wanted to know what the costs were. After much discussion following the vote regarding the motion, it was pointed out that the vote had already been taken and the motion had passed.

During other business, Fields showed council members a plaque presented to the borough by the Pa. Association of Boroughs in honor of the borough’s 225th anniversary.

Council also authorized Fields to enroll in West Penn Power’s First Energy program that allows commercial entities to pay 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour versus 7.41 cents per kilowatt hour.

Council granted a request from the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to close West Market Street from the square west to the alley for the Strawberry Festival in June.

Buterbaugh, who also serves on the Parks and Rec Commission, told council members that the commission will sponsor a two-mile hike on Sideling Hill mountain on May 20 at 2 p.m. to the Oregon CCC Camp, the stone bridge and the old turnpike tunnels. Buterbaugh estimated the hike at 2.5 hours.

Regular business

During regular business, council approved payment of March bills in the amount of $9,556.11. Revenue for the same period was $8,916.44. Checks were written for $24,205.47, and the April 1 balance was $23,927.89.

Council members present were Travis Bard, Mack Shaffer, Pat Booth, Pat Frazier, Rick Buterbaugh, Jim Smith, David Washabaugh and Mayor Mike Chilcote.

Borough Council meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton House. The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 2, 2012.

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