BARNEGAT – Members of the Township Committee will be ineligible for health benefits if an introduced ordinance gets passed at the next meeting.
The ordinance, as introduced, would cut all medical benefits from members of the Township Committee, chief financial officer Tom Lombarski said. If approved on the second reading of the ordinance, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Currently, the cost for benefits in 2017 was $90,140. However, the two members affected pay $1,970 toward their plans, which brings the cost to taxpayers down to $88,170.
Further, the committee members are paid $4,196 a year. The deputy mayor is paid $4,326, and the mayor is paid $4,588. This would not be affected by the ordinance.
There are just two committee members who take health benefits, John Novak and Susan McCabe. The others are older than 65 and therefore have other medical insurance.
“We understand it’s the right thing to do,” Mayor Albert Bille said.
Novak said it was started many years ago, before he was on the committee. “It wasn’t costly when it started, but over the years it’s become very costly.”
He said that ending health insurance for the governing body is a way to show residents that they are serving on the committee without ulterior motives.
Marianne Clemente, head of the local Democrats, didn’t see this move as being sincere, but an election year tactic. Novak is running for re-election alongside fellow Republican Alfonso Cirulli.
“We’ve been talking about this at least ten years,” she said.
A member of the public, usually former committeeman Jake Taylor, has brought it up almost every meeting in the last year.
“Last year, it was part of our campaign platform, as was the parks. It’s very nice they’ve taken heed of our comments,” she said.