No more health benefits for part time trustees

FLINT TWP. — In the latest costcutting move, the board of trustees partly eliminated its own health care coverage.

By unanimous vote, the board whacked an estimated $34,000 off annual expenses by eliminating health care insurance for its four part-time trustees. The board’s supervisor, clerk and treasurer serve full time.

Currently, two trustees receive health care benefits and two receive a $1,200 annual stipend in lieu of health insurance.

Annual health benefits costs for trustees of about $15,989 for two-person coverage includes a premium of $11,557, a $4,000 annual deduction, dental and vision insurance premiums of about $967 and an annual five percent employee contribution implemented this year of $626.08, according to information provided by Beth Takacs, controller.

The new provision goes into effect at noon on Nov. 20 when the incoming board takes office. All seven current board members are up for re-election.

Supervisor Karyn Miller explained that by law the board cannot take away compensation for currently elected officials.

“You can voluntarily give up what you have but it can not be voted and taken away from you while you are in office,” she said, noting that she has chosen to give up the stipend for 15 months.

Trustee Belenda Parker moved to amend the proposed action to include elimination of the annual stipend.

Trustee Frank Kasle attempted to take measures a step further by asking that future board members who want to pay 100 percent of their health care premium costs be allowed to do so and also that board members receiving health care benefits be required to pay 20 percent of costs.

Kasle said for the past few years he has been giving back to the township ten percent of his salary and costs of benefits because he thought it was the right thing to do.

“I did it primarily because I thought to set an example not only to the board members but also to the union negotiators,” Kasle said.

“I was anxious to try to get a handle on our payroll costs and benefits costs across the board. That apparently did not work.”

He acknowledged that union contract negotiations did result in a five percent employee contribution to health care costs but said he thought it should have been 20 percent in line with costs being paid by other municipalities in the state including Genesee County, as mandated by Senate Bill 9.

He also cited a recent auditor’s assessment that the township’s long-term Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) is underfunded by nearly $14 million.

“We can’t sustain it. We have to do something about it (future financial shortfalls),’’ Kasle said.

He proposed amending the motion to require a 20 percent contribution by township board members..

Parker objected and called for a vote of the motion already on the floor.

Miller agreed but allowed Kasle to finish his comments.

Kasle voted in favor of the standing motion but asked that his suggestion that board members pay 20 percent of health care costs be put on the board agenda for consideration at its June 18 meeting.

Miller said the township had saved on attorney costs and other expenses by settling union contracts to meet a statemandated Sept. 15 deadline.

“I am pleased with the concessions that the unions have given,’’ she said.

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