I would like to thank Sara Shick for bringing up the subject of the Health Savings Account medical plans for the Township's employees at the BOS meeting on 24 March. She quotes an anonymous email which discussed this issue and it could possible have been the one I wrote a few weeks ago (14, March 2014), although there is some doubt in my mind since in
my e-mail I never made any inference that the Township had not budgeted for the extra bonus monies for the township employees, which is Sarah's opening point. I specifically stated that what was done was a “mask”, having the Insurance policy fees a certain price but then compensating the employees towards the deductibles. Yes, the line item payment in the 02/24/2014 bills list is very clearly listed (that is how it was discovered) BUT a resident would have to examine a specific bills list in order to observe the once a year payment. I never said that it wasn't in the budget. I am sure it was. The question was “Why?” and when does an employer pay deductibles for the employee? The answer is in West Vincent Township, and on the taxpayer dime!

Whether it was my email or not, this discussion was very informative and every taxpayer should see it. Here are my observations and comments and at the end of this e-mail is the transcript.

You may view the township video (if it doesn't disappear like so many other township videos have) by going to this link:

In this meeting, Jim Wendelgass tells the public that the Township has been spending taxpayer funds to cover deductibles since 2010, which would, including this year, be FOUR YEARS! I still ask, when is a deductible not really a deductible? When the taxpayer pays it for you!

Ken Miller asks the public how many “tens of thousands of dollars” actually stays in an employees account.  Jim Wendelgass states it is “an account that can only be used to pay medical bills”. But that is a half truth. Jim Wendelgass, Township Manager, and Ken Miller, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of West Vincent Township, don't mention that this is also RETIREMENT MONEY. If it isn't used, the employee keeps it. So let's do a simple calculation. Speculating this is for 20 people since that would be most of the people in the Administration. $50,000 divided by 20 people is $2500 per person per year. As a retirement fund, if the employee is smart and leaves the money in the account and pays the deductible out of pocket (if there are no doctors visits, there are no payments, by the way) instead of using this township (read: taxpayer) “contribution” (the smart thing to do), after 20 years, that would be payment of $50,000 per person, or ONE MILLION DOLLARS in total contributions. That is if the numbers don't increase, which would be doubtful calculating in inflation, cost of living, increase in medical expenses. The answer seems to be, Ken Miller, ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Not tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, ONE MILLION WEST VINCENT TOWNSHIP TAXPAYER DOLLARS.

Jim Wendelgass states that he has no idea what happens to the money in the employee accounts if the employee leaves. That's understandable. Jim only gets paid $108,000 a year plus another $30,000 in benefits. If the taxpayers gave him another couple grand, maybe he would know the numbers that he discusses and reviews with the Supervisors. Yet, somehow he can remember the EXACT contribution numbers for 3 years in a row. Strange.

Finally, while not identified in public, after few e-mail inquiries I was informed that Michael Schneider was speaking.

Best wishes


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Transcript, starting at 6:00 minutes into the video

Miller: Sara Shick

Sara Shick: Um, mine relates to the budget as well but it's just asking you to clarify something...

Miller: Hold on, a second, I um, want to make sure Maria's finished, that's all...

Maria Jacobs: Oh, yeah, that's fine, thanks.

Sara Shick: I just wanted you to clarify something I understood from your budget process at the end of last year. Um, the reason I have the question is there's been another anonymous attack on the township government and this one relates to the Health Savings Accounts for the township employees and the implication of the anonymous message is that you guys hadn't budgeted for it and your now taking it out of somebody else's pocket. In fact, when you announced that $250,000 or whatever that was that the healthcare cost, that included the Township's contribution to t he HSA, didn't it?

Jim Wendelgass: Yes it did, it's always included that, in fact, the Township has been using uh, HSA's, uh as part if it's cost control of it's healthcare costs since 2011.

Sara Shick: So this is, this was no surprise and nothing was hidden, it's just the way you do business.

Jim Wendelgass: Well, I mean, yes, I mean, since 2011 all of the HSA payments have been run through the bills list so they've all been public, they've all been identified as HSA payments, and they were done 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. They were budgeted for, and they were all taken into consideration for any any analysis of the cost of the, uh, medical plans.

Sara Shick: And the HSA changed amount changed this year because of the increase in health care costs.

Jim Wendelgass: No, because it increased in (undetermined, muffled).

Sara Shick: Same thing, to help keep your costs down like having (undetermined, muffled). Thank you.

Miller: Other Comments? Maria?

Maria Jacobs: This is a follow-up to that question, um, in the HSA, do the employees, if they leave, do they get to take that money with them? If there's money left over in their account?

Miller: I understand that the HSA belongs to the Supervis--, to the employee, no the Supervisor, it rolls over into the employees.

Maria Jacobs: So the answer is yes, that they, so if they haven't used

Miller: right

Maria Jacobs: their HSA

Miller: right
Maria Jacobs: they take it with them so its an additional

Miller: right

Maria Jacobs: payroll issue

Miller: Well, how much money, how many tens of thousands of dollars do think remains in an

Maria Jacobs: I have no clue

Miller: employees

Maria Jacobs: it was kind of a surprise to me and until Sara brought that up it kinda reminded me of that memo or that, that e-mail that went out that said, Whoa, is that really true, do they really get to keep that? So, I didn't even think of that until...

Sara Shick: Um, I worked for a company that, if you left you forfeited your HSA because of how the contract was written. So I suspect it's....

Michael Schneider: What's that, an FSA? An FSA employer so they wouldn't be able to take that.

Sara Shick: I can't tell you, it was.....

Several people over talking each other.

Jim Wendelgass: There are different things and, and, and, they are treated differently by law

Sara Shick: It might have been....

Jim Wendelgass: But, but in any event, HSA's, Health Savings Accounts, can only be spent on health related expenses.

Sara Shick: Right, and it rolls over to the next year if not used.

Jim Wendelgass: That's correct. It rolls over.

Sara Shick: So it's stays....

Jim Wendelgass: We've not had a situat....

Sara Shick: stays available to that employee

Jim Wendelgass: That's correct. We've not had a situation where anyone has left so I don't specifically know what the answer is and what happens to it.

Miller: Maria, anything else?

Maria Jacobs: No.

Miller: uh, Kit

Kit Trolier: So just overall, healthcare costs, yes there was change to the plan where the deductibles went higher, and so you put more money into a Health Savings Account for the employees to cover that. Bottom line, what did it do to the budget? Did it increase it, decrease it, did we save any money, did we spend more money, what, what happened? Bottom line.

Jim Wendelgass: You asked two questions, What did it do to the budget? We budgeted a 10% increase and that's what the increase was.

Kit Trolier: OK

Jim Wendelgass: So,

Kit Trolier: To the health care costs...

Jim Wendelgass: To the health care costs

Kit Trolier: That which is...

Jim Wendelgass: From 2013, to the 2013 to the 2014, there was a 10 % increase in cost.

Kit Trolier: OK, so you took basically that number and you divided it up differently between healthcare cost and HSA...

Jim Wendelgass: That's correct

Kit Trolier: contributions

Jim Wendelgass: That's correct

Kit Trolier: See, OK....

Michael Schneider: I got a question, what that, that 10% did you increase the amount that you put into the HSA?

Jim Wendelgass:: No, if you look at the...

Michael Schneider: Has it always been 50,000?

Jim Wendelgass: No, no, no, no, it's never been , if you look at our budget, our budget because of the way it's line itemed, there is an item for the Manager, there's an item for the Secretary, there's and item for the Road Crew for their benefits, and uh, all those items were increased 10% this year. There was not a specific distinction between a payment of an HSA or a payment of a (undetermined, garbled).

Michael Schneider: How much was the HSA payment last year?

Jim Wendelgass: $39,000

Michael Schneider: and 2012?
Jim Wendelgass: Uh, thirty-seven five?

Michael Schneider: Thirty-seven five, thirty nine and then fifty.

Jim Wendelgass: That's correct.

Michael Schneider: OK.

Miller: K. Other comments? Uh, person in the back said that's more than 10% for the Health Savings account, it was more than 10% but the total cost to the residents of the township for healthcare for the employees was a 10% increase including the HSA increase. Other Comments?

11:30 minutes end