Catasauqua Press

Friday, May 25, 2018

Councilman calls for more transparency

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Councilman Bob Heimbecker opened Hanover Council’s meeting July 5 with a complaint about a discussion council had with the township’s insurance broker, Brosky Insurance.

At council’s June 7 meeting, Todd Brosky presented his company’s history of serving the township and the benefits of working with his firm.

Heimbecker had not been at that meeting but had expressed interest in addressing the insurance coverage at prior meetings. At the June 7 meeting, the council endorsed Brosky and elected not to entertain any review of insurance being offered by a competing firm, Brown & Brown.

The township’s coverage is not up for review until later in the year. After the Brosky presentation, Chairman Bruce Paulus opened an envelope from Brown & Brown indicating it would be able to price coverage below the existing quote, but the council voted to squelch the offer for a competitive bid.

There are several extenuating circumstances lurking in the background. The township’s current coverage is with a mutual conglomeration of municipalities in the state. As such, Hanover Township pays a higher monthly premium and is then rebated a portion of the monthly payments based on the capital needs of the mutual and the conglomerated claim rates of all the participating municipalities.

Heimbecker said the discussion June 7 did not delve into some necessary details.

“I understand that Brosky has a long, 25-year history with the township,” he said. “Seeing options from other vendors is part of our responsibility to serve the best interests of the township residents and businesses. Looking at what other players in the industry are doing will help us improve coverage and even get innovative ideas.”

The cost of insurance is a major budget item for the township.

“How can we be with the same vendor for 25 years without a single competitive quote ... and not know if we are paying too much?” Heimbecker asked.

He added that the council had decided to stay with Brosky without even hearing from another vendor. According to Heimbecker, Brown & Brown has an impressive list of municipal clients.

Heimbecker asked his fellow council members to reconsider and put out a formal request for quotes. The measure failed by a vote of 3-2, with Councilman Curtis Wegfahrt joining Heimbecker in supporting the effort.

At the end of his remarks, Heimbecker resigned from his position as vice chairman of the council and asked council to nominate a new vice chairman.

The council decided to defer making a nomination at that meeting.

In a related matter, the council asked township staff for input on a municipal enterprise data system. According to Heimbecker, there are several on the market.

“When we (Heimbecker and Wegfahrt) were at the PSATS convention, we saw a system demonstrated that was very effective. Data was collected efficiently and managed,” he said.

The staff looked into a competing system.

Heimbecker asked for proposals from companies interested in the software project.

“They should be able to get the information they need and give us a presentation at a council meeting,” he said.