Petrolia councillors getting health benefit

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Petrolia Councilors will  get taxpayers’ help to pay for medical expenses.

Council passed a bylaw Monday which included a new health care benefit for the mayor and councilors.

The bylaw says the members will be entitled to receive a health care spending account at the beginning of each year of $2,000.  The money can be used to cover expenses for councilors, spouses and dependent children still living at home. If they don’t spend it all in one year, they can hold up to $1,000 over until the next year.

Councilors’ health care expenses will be paid when they submit the paid original receipt and the town’s top administrator approves it.

The councilors won’t get the full amount this year, with each person receiving $666.67 for expenses incurred during September until the end of this year.

Chief Administrative Officer Manny Baron says the town is part of a best practices group for municipal government and found other municipalities were offering health benefits for elected politicians. “We found our councilors were behind the eight-ball when it came to health benefits,” he says.

The bylaw also shows the mayor and councilor’s pay will increase in 2014. The mayor’s annual pay will increase by $1,800 to $21,000 and councilors will see a $950 increase to $11,000.  Councilors can also claim up to $3,000 per year for expenses and per diems related to conventions and conferences.