Two additional members of the Brick Township Council will receive taxpayer-funded health benefits in 2013, Brick Patch has confirmed.
Council members Jim Fozman and Bob Moore, both entering their second year serving on the council, have notified the township’s administration that they will participate in Brick’s employee health insurance plan this year, an Open Public Records Act request filed by Brick Patch showed.
Neither of the two council members, both Democrats, took benefits in 2012. Both said in the midst of the 2011 council campaign that they would not accept benefits if they came to be elected.
“My circumstances in life have changed,” said Fozman, who declined to elaborate on what those circumstances were. “I didn't take them for the first year, so the town did have a savings on that.”
Moore said the company he works for was cutting expenses, and the township’s plan was best for both his family and his employer.
“The company I work for is not a big company. It's a small mom and pop shop,” said Moore. “They were looking to cut back on anything we could cut back on.”
Moore said he is still committed to saving the township money, however his responsibilities as a council member caused him to have to sacrifice overtime pay, amounting to a cut in his professional salary.
“The most important thing I have to look out for is my two kids,” he said.
During the 2011 election cycle, Fozman and Moore were elected with two other Democrats, John Ducey and Susan Lydecker, ending several years of Republican control of the governing body.
Fozman, Moore and Lydecker said in a candidates’ questionnaire from Brick Patch they would not accept benefits. Ducey incorrectly stated that he would not be eligible for benefits, but accepted the benefits once he joined the council.
Of the remaining council members, only Republican Dan Toth receives the benefits package.
Lydecker, along with Republicans Domenick Brando and Joseph Sangiovanni, does not participate in the benefits plan.
Township documents show Ducey, Moore and Toth accept family health coverage, while Fozman accepts husband and wife coverage. The cost of the plans vary, township officials have said, but range from approximately $9,000 for single coverage to $25,800 for family coverage.
Brick Township council members are eligible for taxpayer-funded benefits because Brick is self-insured and does not participate in the state’s health care program. Under the state program, council members who took office after reform measures were passed in 2010 are no longer eligible to receive benefits.
In the case of Brick’s self-insurance policy, the council would have to pass an ordinance restricting its own members’ eligibility to participate in order to disallow the acceptance of benefits.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, who does not accept township health benefits, called on council members to give up their benefits early in 2012. The council never acted on his proposal.