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Nazareth to Pay Higher Workers' Comp Premium than Expected

Nazareth Borough has been forced to turn to the state for a workers’ compensation policy; the premium is $3,500 more than what was projected.

Nazareth Borough's to stretch to $191,492 in 2012-2013.

Now the final number is in: $195,072.

That's about $3,500 more than anticipated.

"And we don't have anyone on workers' comp right now. So that's good," Nazareth Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. said sarcastically at Thursday night.

After recording 19 losses within the last three years -- totaling about $1.1 million in claims -- Travelers Insurance .

“They are cutting us off,” Daugherty announced at council’s March 5 meeting. “We have to go to the state. That’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow.”

According to Paul Kokolus, the borough’s secretary and treasurer, the borough spoke to 11 vendors about obtaining coverage -- all of them declined.

Because no insurance company would issue the borough a policy, the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF) was the last resort.

Most of the workers' compensation claims have originated from the borough's police department, although no officers are currently claiming workers' compensation.

The rising operating costs of the department have been the driving factor in the mayor's  the department and contract services from .

In December, however,  to buy coverage from Colonial Regional after negotiations failed to move forward.

According to documents provided to the public at council's workshop on May 31 -- these documents are located to the right of this article -- the department's direct payroll increased 113.34 percent over a nine-year period. That's a 12.6 percent increase per year.

After Daugherty announced the final 2012-2013 premium, Kokolus again noted that the borough could save 4 percent if it enrolls in a drug-free workplace program.

But the borough will wait until September, when temporary summer workers are no longer on the payroll, so the cost is more bearable.

Under a drug-free workplace program, borough employees would be subject to random drug testing -- except for elected officials and police officers. The Highway Department would also be excluded because those employees are already tested in order to obtain and keep CDL licenses.

Police Chief Thomas Trachta is hoping police officers will be included, but there is some hesitation because random drug testing is not a stipulation in the officers' contracts.

will meet at 7 tonight -- Monday, July 2.

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