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Commissioners back to full force

September 6, 2018

Somerset County once again has three commissioners.

President Judge D. Gregory Geary administered the oath office to Pat Terlingo, swearing him in as the replacement for James T. Yoder Tuesday afternoon. Yoder now heads the county aging agency.

“It’s too late to back out now,” Geary said.

As reported in Saturday’s Daily American, Terlingo, the 73-year-old former North Star superintendent, was named by the court to fill the vacancy. Terlingo said Tuesday that he was humbled to be selected by the judges.

“I think filling the remainder of the term will be very rewarding and I hope it is a good experience for the citizens of Somerset County,” he said.

Hours earlier the commissioners had their last meeting with only Walker and Vatavuk filling the posts. During the meeting they heard from a financial consultant who recommended that the board change their valuation rate method regarding pensions.

County finance director Rebecca Canavan explained that the firm looks at all of their investments over the year and determines what their actual required contribution should be. The rate change is a result of an Act 44 method, which was put into place in 2008 after the market crashed.

“It should keep the liability more in line where we are getting our returns,” Canavan said. “It is giving us that smoothing where it should be. Investments are doing better and we are not having to contribute as much as we did in the past.”

Each year the commissioners budget $2 million to pay their pension obligations. The most they have had to pay because of the market was in 2010 — $2.3 million. Under the past method the county would have paid $1.9 million. Under the new method they are required to pay $1.5 million. The board decided to pay $1.7 million. The county’s pension is funded at 86.8 percent.

“We hope we will be able to pay less at some point,” Walker said.

In other business the commissioners approved the following personnel actions:

Resignations/Separations from Employment:

Fiscal Department: Thomas Johnson, of Johnstown, accountant, effective Sept. 7.

New Employees:

Area Agency on Aging: Barbara Bolden, of Somerset, clerk at $19,500, effective Sept. 24.

Children and Youth Services: Roberta Darr, of Jenners, clerk at $19,500, effective Sept. 17.

Domestic Relations: Douglas Koscianski, of Meyersdale, conference officer at $27,239, effective Sept. 10.

Sheriff: Barry Barron Jr., of Somerset, deputy at $12.59 per hour, effective Sept. 5.

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