LITTLE VALLEY — The Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Finance Committee has put a plan to provide county coroners with health insurance in the “hold file.”
After discussing the proposal in executive session on Wednesday, Finance Committee members decided they needed more information and put a hold on the resolution.
Sponsored by Legislature Chairman Paula Stockman, R-South Dayton, the resolution would provide the four elected county coroners with health insurance under the same terms as county legislators.
The coroners receive just over $10,000 a year as part-time employees, so they do not receive health insurance.
The resolution would set aside $53,516 from the contingent fund to pay for either family or single coverage through the county’s self-insured health insurance program and dental insurance.
Stockman said Wednesday she had submitted the resolution at the written request of the coroners, who sought the same health insurance provided to legislators.
Members of the County Legislature’s Labor Relations Committee and County Operations/Public Safety Committee signed the resolution out of their respective committees last week. It was held in the Finance Committee for more information.
Finance Committee Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean, who was absent from last week’s committee meetings, called a special Finance Committee meeting before Wednesday’s Legislature session to address the issue.
After the Finance Committee agreed to hold the resolution, Snyder told the Times Herald “support for the health insurance for coroners evaporated.”
After public interest was aroused over the issue, legislators found it difficult to vote on health insurance for the coroners and held it for more information, Snyder said.
At least two of the four coroners have wives who have health insurance provided where they work. They have reportedly indicated they would take a buyout over the health insurance. County employees eligible for health insurance who do not take it are eligible for buy-outs.
One legislators said he’d gotten five calls in two days on the issue of health insurance for the coroners. The same was true with many other county lawmakers.
Stockman had submitted the resolution at the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting, when it was referred to the three committees.
Legislature Democrats were prepared to vote against the measure, according to a spokesman. Several people were expected to ask for permission to address legislators on the issue Wednesday if it was approved by the Finance Committee.
IN OTHER NEWS, county lawmakers raced through a short agenda Wednesday after a Farm Bureau presentation and awards were given to two 4-H members.
Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau President Derek Hill of Leon gave a presentation to county lawmakers on product labeling and how it can be misleading.
Gluten-free labeling on products that do not contain corn or soybeans can be misleading, he said, as well as labeling for genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs.
“Genetically-modified organisms can feed the world — the yields are so much higher,” Hill said. The scientific community “agrees GMOs are safe,” he said, adding those who wish to avoid eating GMOs can eat organic.
Hill, who recently succeeded Charles Couture as Farm Bureau president, said Farm Bureau had several legislative priorities which included a refundable investment tax credit for farmers, doubling the minimum wage tax credit for small farmers to $500 each and expanding the Buy Local movement to state colleges and prisons.
Additionally, the County Legislature chairman presented two 4-H members with certificates of achievement.
Stockman presented a certificate to Easton Pence, 6, son of Dana and Tim Pence of Randolph, for having his photo exhibiting an alpaca at the Cattaraugus County Fair chosen for a 4-H banner.
The chairman also presented a certificate to Emily Maul, 12, daughter of Tricia and Christopher Maul of Delevan. Her prize-winning photo of a bee on a thistle, which won the outstanding photo award at the county fair, was not only exhibited at the New York State Fair, but graced the cover of the Cattaraugus County Cooperative Extension Annual Report.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@olean
timesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)