Sunday, December 07, 2008


On August 21 --in a move obscured by the debate over the smoking ban the City Council voted itself a potential raise of nearly 200%. The council passed Resolution R-08-39 that gave themselves access to all of the health insurance benefits available to full time employees of the city.

The Human Resources specialist for the city informs me that full family medical insurance coverage for a city employee cost $1,664.21 per month and dental $80.76 a month. The city picks up 90% of the medical premium $1,540.62 and $22 of the dental insurance premium for a monthly cost to the city of $1,562.62 per council member.

Council members are paid $816 per month with a take-home amount of about $744. Council members who take advantage of this new benefit for full employee and family coverage--at annual cost of $18,751.44 would triple their cost to taxpayers of New Albany over the current salary of $9,792. With full health insurance coverage, a council member would receive around $28,543.44 in salary and benefits.

That is a heck of a raise.

Council member Diane McCartin Benedetti signed up for the full package and by so doing claimed that 200% raise!

Benedetti's money-grab should not surprise anyone, though. In a budget hearing on July 29, Benedetti asked the Council to give her a raise and had her request shot down. Jack Messer made it clear to her that he considered serving on the council as a public service, not a money-making proposition. Intentionally or not, Councilman Dan Coffey came to her aid and found a way to get the council to give her thew raise she wanted. He was the sponsor behind R-08-39.

To be fair, Kevin Zurschmiede, the only Republican on the council, failed to show the fiscal restraint one would expect from a member of his party. He signed up for coverage-for himself and his wife--at a cost to the taxpayers of $11,547.36 annually- giving himself of nearly 120%.

Council member Steve Price also signed up for coverage for himself and his daughter at the cost of $10,971.36 a raise of just over 112%. In Price's favor, he has realized how unfair it is to ask the city's employees and departments to make sacrifices when the Council is bellying up to the trough.

He has informed the city that he is cancelling his coverage.

Maybe it is unfair to pick on just those members of the Council who signed up for the coverage. After all, every member of the Council except, ironically, Price voted to give themselves these benefits. Each one Coffey, Caesar, Price, McLaughlin, Benedetti, Gonder, Messer, Zurschmiede and Gahan is responsible for the additional $41,270.65 that the taxpayers are going to have to pay for our representatives on the Council this year.

Next year, at the whim of each council member, that figure could go even higher.

The council tells us that the city is in a financial crisis.

The Council has voted to freeze or even cut the budgets for the city's departments. Just last month the Council passed a resolution that forces the most critical of city services-fire and police-to cut thousands out of their budget. We are told that the fire and police departments are going to cut the number of these public safety officers hours to make up the loss.

That's right--salary and personnel cuts.

Last year the Council gave the mayor and city clerk huge raises in the midst of financial crisis (neither mayor or clerk voiced any complaints).

This year the City Council gives itself a huge raise.

Maybe the citizens of New Albany have heard that times are tough out there for workers.

Well, it's not for the elected officials of New Albany--not when they can vote themselves raises from money we thought we were paying for city services and public safety.

Jeff Roudenbush

Freedom Of Speech would like to add the following information:

Humana Plan One
$200 Individual-Network Deductible
Humana Rx: $7.50/$12.50/$25.00

Non-Union Active Employees

Active Employees
Total Premium per month - $513.51
City Contribution
per month - $494.60
Single Employee pays - $19.01

Total Premium per month -$1,027.63
City Contribution
per month - $940.28
Employee/Spouse pay - $87.35

Total Premium per month - $976.24
City Contribution
per month - $892.28
Employee/Child(ren) pay - $83.96

Total Premium per month - $1,644.21
City Contribution
per month - $1,540.62
Employee and Family pay - $103.59

Source: City of New Albany
coverage from 9/1/08 - 8/31/09


How could Council member insurance be paid if insurance was NOT included in the 2008 Budget?

Why did the City Clerk NOT enter any council discussion about Council members insurance in the August 21, 2008 minutes?

Freedom Of Speech would like to say: This is your money taxpayers and they wonder why our city is in a financial crisis!