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Supervisors say no to cost-of-living increase for retirees

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Oct 08 2012 10:38:38 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 08 2012 10:40:54 PM CDT
Palmer Township
PALMER TWP., Pa. -

A request from Palmer Township pension recipients for a cost-of-living increase was unanimously turned down by the board of supervisors Monday night.

Former police officer James Trenberth sent a letter to the supervisors' pension committee last week asking the supervisors to reinstate a cost-of-living increase which he said has not been given to retirees since 2009.

He said the annual increase since he retired in 2001 amounted to about
1.5 percent, or about $420 a year. He also asked the supervisors to consider making the increase retroactive to 2010, noting that on Dec.
26, 2006, the supervisors decided that the cost-of-living increase "was to be given on an ongoing basis."

There was little discussion among the four supervisors at the meeting before they denied the request, and no comment from any of the retirees.

Township manager Christopher Christman reminded the supervisors that an actuarial review showed the township has a $2 million shortfall in its pension fund.

Supervisor Ann-Marie Panella said she did not think the increase was a good idea because Social Security has not adjusted pension benefits since 2009.

Afterward, Christman said the increase would have affected about a dozen retirees.

In other business, the supervisors directed solicitor Charles Bruno to draft an agreement giving an easement to the Easton Suburban Water Authority to install a water main on township bike path property.

The main would extend about 1,700 feet, from Hickory Drive to Sheridan Lane, and be located about five to six feet from the edge of the bike path, according to the authority's assistant executive director, Craig Swinsburg.

Construction would take up to two weeks, Swinsburg said, adding that the bike path would be closed during that time. The work would be done in January or February, when bike path traffic is lowest, and the authority would overlay the bike path as part of the project, he pointed out.

Supervisors chairman Dave Colver suggested -- and his colleagues agreed -- the township should have the bike path's width expanded from eight to 12 feet in conjunction with the authority project. "Our new bike paths are all 12 feet," he said. "We've been wanting to widen [that] bike path, and this is the perfect excuse for us."