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WIVB Article on Money Spent on Acupunture and Massage

Millions spent on massages, acupuncture

BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) - Republican Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says he discovered that since 2009, $1.4 million taxpayer dollars have been spent on massages and acupuncture for most county employees.

Mychajliw said, “When I received my benefits package I was handed a specific sheet of paper that said here's your massage therapist and here's where you can get acupuncture sessions. It's outrageous.”

He says the money could have been used to put about five more Sheriff's deputies on the roads or in the holding center.

News 4 has reported for decades that Republican Sheriff Tim Howard said there have been problems with staffing and overtime at the jails.

City cultural institutions have also lobbied for more funding over the years.

Representatives from cultural institutions were literally begging legislatures for money.

Current Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz wants more funding for the arts.

His predecessor Republican Chris Collins cut funding.

Sunday Poloncarz responded to concerns about massages and acupuncture.

In part he said "prior administrations provided the benefits in union contracts".

He went on to note he hadn't seen the comptrollers finding and doesn't know how accurate they are.

“While the Comptroller appears to be criticizing the 2003 agreement’s provisions, for the record, the movement to a single health insurance provider reduced the County’s health care expenses by millions from the previous arrangements, even with the inclusion of the massage and acupuncture provisions,” said Poloncarz in a statement.

But it also appeared that he in part agreed with Mychajliw. He says he's concerned about the growing cost of health care and wants new union contracts.

Poloncarz says already there’s been a change.

A new contract has been reached with the CSEA correction officers unit and perks like massages and acupuncture won’t be covered for new employees.

Source: WIVB
Nalina Shapiro
Published : Sunday, 03 Feb 2013, 5:26 PM EST
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