Trustees cool toward Printy joining Perkins health plan

PERKINS TWP. So much for the welcoming committee. Perkins Township trustees Jeff Ferrell and Tim Col
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

PERKINS TWP.

So much for the welcoming committee. Perkins Township trustees Jeff Ferrell and Tim Coleman on Tuesday said they're not likely to approve newcomer Mike Printy's request to join the township's health insurance policy.

It would mark the first time in at least two decades -- possibly the first time ever -- that incumbent trustees didn't let an incoming, elected official sign up for the township's health insurance plan.

"I guess I have to take them at face value," Printy said. "Both of them expressed concern for the additional cost it would bring to the township."

State law requires a sitting board of trustees to decide if elected officials can receive health and life insurance. They must make the decision before the new board starts its term.

At Tuesday's trustees meeting, Printy asked Coleman, Ferrell and Bill Dwelle to allow the new board to participate in the health insurance plan. Printy will be part of that new board in January, having ousted Dwelle in the November election. Oddly, it was Dwelle who offered Printy the most support in his request.

"I personally have no objections," Dwelle said. "Other trustees have used that provision and been part of the entire township's group (insurance) policy."

Dwelle used the township's health insurance policy as a trustee years ago, but has since retired and uses the state employees retirement program.

Other trustees and elected officials have used the program in the past, the most recent being former township fiscal officer Pam Hartung, who signed up for the policy in 2003 under then-trustees Robert Kowalk, Tom Pascoe and Jerry Baumgardner.

Ferrell, Coleman and Dwelle have opted not to sign up for the township's health insurance policy since they all have insurance from other employment.

Ferrell is a Sandusky firefighter, while Coleman is an Ohio Department of Transportation employee -- both public employees.

Ferrell said at Tuesday's meeting he would not approve Printy's request, while Coleman said he needed some time to chew on it.

"I don't want to say yes and have it be the wrong answer," Coleman said.

The township's health insurance costs jumped 60 percent this past year as a result of at least three large claims. Ferrell said trustees promised to keep costs down and align expenses with income.

"I just feel at this time that I cannot support it," Ferrell said. "I'm not sure if (we'd be) sending out the right signals to the taxpayers. They have a very large stake in this, because it is their tax money.

"I would hope that the reason anybody wants to get on this board is not compensation, or extra compensation," Ferrell added. "If I had to vote on this tonight, I would vote no."

Coleman, who was also in the running against Printy and Dwelle in last month's election, recalled Printy's campaign comments about township spending this past year.

"There were some comments made by you when you were running for this office that make this (request) a little strange now," Coleman said.

Coleman proceeded to explain he doesn't take any reimbursement for mileage or expenses when conducting township business, nor does he ask the township to pay for his Perkins Township shirts.

"I'd point out that your sacrifices are certainly noteworthy," Printy told Coleman. "The mileage and shirts and things like that. But I think the issue of medical insurance seems to be significantly more important than some of those things."

Coleman replied, "I don't feel it's my right to take money out of someone else's pocket to make my life easier.

"Not that I'm saying that's what you're doing," Coleman added.

"That isn't why I joined the board or ran for election -- I know you know that," Printy said. "I plan on being a long and hard worker as a township trustee.

"I'm simply placing value on an employer-sponsored medical plan that I'm sure two of you are enjoying through other public employers," Printy said. "I'd be crazy not to take it; it's such a valuable plan."

Printy, who is self-employed, said private insurance for him and his wife costs about $1,200 a month. Under the township's policy, the cost would be about the same, but he'd only have to foot about $120 a month, while the township would pick up the rest.

Printy offered to pay a total of $400 a month toward the premium, rather than $120, to offset costs.

"I know that I work plenty hard enough to earn every bit I'd get from the township," Printy said after Tuesday's meeting. " There were maybe some comments that suggested I was running for office only for insurance. I'm certain that's not true."

Printy said he wouldn't let the issue impede progress, and he committed to working positively with Ferrell and Coleman in the future.

"If they deny it to me, I can't let it set us off on the wrong foot," Printy said. "It won't deter me from being a great trustee."