SUNBURY - An insurance company hired Tuesday by Northumberland County commissioners on a split vote is expected to save $50,000 in premiums and significantly reduce deductibles for litigation matters involving employees and elected officials.

Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi approved Travelers Insurance as the county's carrier for property, auto, general liability, public officials, law enforcement and employment practices insurance, retroactive to July 1.

In addition to the savings in premiums, the deductible for county employees in litigation matters will be reduced from $100,000 to $15,000, while the deductible for elected officials involved in litigation will shrink from $25,000 to $15,000.

Commissioner Richard Shoch opposed the move, citing several concerns. Shoch admitted hiring Travelers will save the county money, but accused Clausi of entering into contract negotiations with the firm without consulting with him or Bridy. Shoch also claimed other insurance carriers, including Purdy Insurance Agency, Sunbury, weren't treated fairly in the bidding process.

Shoch asked county solicitor Frank Garrigan for a legal opinion by next month's meeting on his allegation that Clausi privately brokered the deal before it was voted on.

Clausi, who participated at the meeting by telephone, claimed Purdy, which was the county's insurance carrier for 40 years before he became a commissioner, overcharged the county for insurance services, which prompted commissioners to switch to CNA Insurance in 2009.

He also said Purdy Insurance made a $250 contribution to Shoch's campaign for commissioner.

When contacted after the meeting, Clausi said, "For 40 years, when Purdy had the contract, the insurance never went out for bid. And now, Mr. Shoch wants to go back to the old regime. Mr. Shoch got paid to play."

Bridy said the $330,000 per year contract with Travelers, which he described as the premier municipal and government insurance carrier in the country, will save the county $50,000 in premiums and reduce deductibles.

The former contract with CNA Insurance cost the county approximately $380,000 per year.

In addition to the savings in premiums and deductible reductions, he said Travelers offers approximately $1 million more in aggregate coverage.

"In my opinion, it was the best deal for the taxpayers. We won't deal with local corruption," Clausi said.

Chuck Robertson, a broker with TFG Risk Management Services Inc., Ambler, who helped secure the insurance deal, told commissioners Travelers offered them more extensive coverage at a better price than CNA.

In other business

The board agreed to commit $2 million in the general fund to debt service.

The commissioners authorized road construction on Swartz Hill Road and First Street in Zerbe Township, reconstruction of Fox Road in Snydertown and removal of blighted properties in the county with 2014 Community Development Block Grant funding.

The board approved an allocation not to exceed $100,000 from the Act 137 Affordable Housing Fund to the Northumberland County Housing Authority to pursue the construction of elderly housing units on Girard Street in Atlas if at least $400,000 in state grant funding is awarded for the project.

A $30,000 allocation was approved for the housing authority for property demolition and acquisitions in several municipalities.

The commissioners entered into an agreement with Mount Carmel Township to remove blighted structures on Girard Street in Atlas for $67,000.

The board congratulated Attorney Michael Robinson for being elected president of the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Solicitor's Association for two years. Robinson has served as solicitor for Northumberland County Children and Youth Services since 1984.

During a brief retirement board meeting, Goldman Sachs was added as an asset manager for the retirement fund.

Board members also agreed with a recommendation by Garrigan to join in a class action securities fraud lawsuit against GMX Resources. The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, alleges violations of security laws on behalf of common stock shareholders of GMX Resources.