|Legality of Dental Insurance Questioned|
|Written by Nancy Bowman|
|Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00|
The city law director is researching the legality of dental insurance available to Tipp City Council members.
Law Director David Caldwell said at council’s Sept. 3 meeting he is looking into whether an illegal benefit (the dental insurance) has been given to council and, if so, whether council members would have to repay.
The questions were raised by city resident Steve Huffman, who previously advocated for an end to taxpayer subsidized health insurance for council members. The council voted this summer to end the insurance effective Jan. 1, 2016, when council’s salary will be increased from $1,000 to $5,000 annually.
The ordinance ending the insurance included dental coverage.
Huffman returned to council last week saying he came back “to finish resolution of the health care issue.”
Huffman said efforts to locate the council legislation authorizing council to receive dental insurance were unsuccessful.
He pointed to an email he received from City Manager Jon Crusey stating “I am not aware of any specific legislation authorizing dental insurance for council members, other than the annual operating budget which appropriates funds for council’s coverage.”
Huffman said he was “somewhat shocked that the citizens are paying for your dental plan.” He said Crusey referred him to Caldwell, who is researching the issue.
Caldwell said he would render an opinion on whether the dental insurance is legal or if repayment would be appropriate.
In the email to Huffman, Crusey said staff believed council’s dental coverage went back to 1994 when health insurance coverage was enacted. He added that finding detailed records to that time is difficult.
Huffman said he thinks the state auditor’s office would be the proper office to provide an opinion on the questions. The office ruled recently that trustees in Montgomery County’s Butler Township received benefits paid by taxpayers without proper authorization, and ordered repayment.
Huffman said he didn’t think any “malice” was involved in council members being told they could receive the dental benefit. The health insurance authorization allowed council members to participate in the city employee insurance program if they paid the same percentage of cost as employees.
Information provided by Crusey showed three council members currently are receiving the dental benefit. The cost per month to the city is $57.61 for family coverage and $19.87 per month for single coverage. The employee share per month is $7.86 for family and $2.71 for single coverage.
The contribution amounts will go up in October, when a new coverage year begins, to $61.64 and $8.41 per month for family and $21.26 and $2.90 for single.
The spreadsheet shows single coverage is being received by Mayor Dee Gillis. Katelyn Berbach and Mike McDermott are receiving family coverage.