A firestorm erupted before last night's Hazleton City Council meeting. As the new City Administrator, Mary Ellen Leib, is pouring over Hazleton's expenditures it was discovered that Tom Gabos as well as one other council person is receiving health insurance paid by the City of Hazleton. It is legal for Mr. Gabos to receive health insurance according to an ordinance passed by City Council in 1997.
Why would a businessman burden the taxpayers with his health insurance cost when he only attends City Council meetings for about four hours per month? The cost of the insurance is $600.00 per month. If you do the math the taxpayers of the City of Hazleton are paying $150.00 per hour for a health insurance benefit. Why would a businessman who levies a mercantile tax on other businesses who must pay their own health insurance premiums ask those businesses to pay for his health insurance?
Its not an ethical violation but a question of his integrity. Is he in it for the money or the true interests of the taxpayers? He owns two businesses, gets paid to attend City Council meetings, has a full time position with the Hazleton Area School District, a part time job for his wife, a part time maintenance job with the Greater Hazleton Historical Society, and health insurance benefits paid for by the taxpayers of Hazleton.
In theses hard economic times that is just plain wrong. Let the voters decide.
Update Note: After a review of Ordinance 97-09 passed in 1997 it appears that the present members of Hazleton City Council are NOT entitled to healthcare benefits from the City of Hazleton. The wording of the Ordinance is quite clear that health insurance was only provided for the newly elected members of City Council for the year 1998. It makes no mention of the word "hereinafter."