WILKES-BARRE — After some debate, a Luzerne County Council majority voted Tuesday to pay $10,000 for a $1 million bond covering county Manager Robert Lawton.
Factoryville-based DGK Insurance and Financial Services, the county’s insurance adviser, sent a letter to county officials recommending the bond remain at $1 million. DGK’s letter, which was publicly released last week, said the state commissioners’ association also advised $1 million coverage for counties the size of Luzerne.
Councilman Stephen A. Urban said the coverage amount should be lowered. Under the prior government system, the three commissioners were bonded for $90,000 at a cost around $400 for four years, he said. Elected row officers had bonds ranging from $10,000 to $13,000 with premiums of several hundred dollars, he said.
“Why are we wasting money that we don’t need to waste?” Urban said, noting the manager is “supposed to be honest and trustworthy.”
Councilman Rick Williams also expressed interest in reduced coverage, suggesting $250,000. Williams said theft is a key reason for obtaining bonds. Interim Treasurer Dominick DePolo also must sign off on all checks, and Williams said a theft is “highly unlikely.”
“The bond is to cover the county in the event that Robert Lawton writes himself a check for some large number and leaves town,” said Williams. “That’s what the bond is for.”
“And gets Dom DePolo to sign it with me,” Lawton added.
A representative of county insurance broker Brown & Brown said the bond also has “faithful performance of duty” coverage, which is similar to an errors and omissions liability insurance policy.
Several council members pointed out there’s not enough time to process a coverage amount change because the new bond must be in place by Friday.
Councilman Edward Brominski complained that council didn’t discuss the bond amount sooner. The county’s administrative code says council must annually determine the appropriate amount of bond coverage before the close of the calendar year.
Several council members said they will rely on DGK’s advice and do not want to risk last-minute adjustments that could leave the county without manager bond coverage.
Councilman Jim Bobeck said he agrees council should discuss reducing the coverage amount “for future years.”
The bond will be purchased from Lexon Surety. Boston Indemnity also submitted a quote providing the same coverage for $15,000.
Brominski, Urban and Councilman Stephen J. Urban voted against the bond.