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Controller: Bucks paid "double benefits" for some employees

By James McGinnis Staff writer

Bucks has paid “double benefits” for at least seven employees who were promoted to contractual management positions but never removed from union insurance plans, according to county controller Ray McHugh.

An investigation in late 2013 by the county controller’s office uncovered health care premium payments of more than $55,000 to the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union for supervisors who were already receiving benefits under management contracts, officials said.

Details of the county’s double benefits “mistake” were mentioned on final pages of the grand jury report released Friday by the district attorney’s office. According to the 76-page report, another $38,000 was paid to Independence Blue Cross for workers “who had left the county.”

Those costs were in addition to the more than $457,422 spent on “ineligible” dependents listed on county health plans, according to estimates disclosed in the grand jury’s report.

McHugh said the “double benefits” were approved by the county finance department and later reviewed by the controller’s office based on the assumption that payments had been checked by Bucks County’s human resources department.

“We paid for the union benefits for them and the management benefits for them,” McHugh said Friday. “The director of finance assumes that someone checked this. He approves that the bill is an appropriate bill, and the controller pays it.” Attempts to reach McHugh for additional comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

In its report, the grand jury recommended “dismissal or severe reprimands” of HR management.

No action has been taken by Bucks County Commissioners Robert Loughery, Charley Martin and Diane Marseglia since the grand jury report.

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching Bucks County Human Resources Director Meredith Dolan for comment since the grand jury report, despite calls and visits to her home and office. A receptionist at the HR office in Doylestown said Dolan was not available.

Dolan has 20 years with the HR department, which oversees hiring, termination and benefits for more than 2,000 county workers. In 2009, she was appointed by the commissioners to the HR director position paying $82,000 annually.