2008-04-26 / Editorials & Letters

One more Letter: Bowling Green 'watchdog' looks at trustee compensation

Editor:

Let' get back to the subject of our oldest trustee and what he told us about his health insurance and Medicare reimbursement check. Now get this, he says he is getting this extra reimbursement check because past trustees wanted things to be fair! So far, I have not been able to find/verify this claim in past meeting notes, but it seems trustees made an agreement, at some point in time, about this issue.

Interestingly, they supposedly agreed that if anyone retires and goes on Social Security, as they would then have two types of insurance (primary and secondary) coverage, it would then no longer be equal. Meaning I suppose, that taxpayers money had to be divided up between all of them, in a fair manner. So apparently they believed that the Medicare reimbursement check would then somehow make this even out! Nobody should get more than someone else, was apparently the thought here. Very interesting notion, let's not try to save some money "perish the thought,", let's spend it and then say we divided it up evenly.

Now what really makes our oldest trustee's argument totally absurd is what is actually being paid out . Using March 2007 as an example, we paid $532.60 for him personally and $1032.16 additional for his wife for a total of $1564.76 a month or $18,777.12 a year. Remember, he is also getting a separate $93.50 check for his monthly Medicare reimbursement, which adds another $1,122. a year. If I did my math right, that is a total of $1,658.26 a month or $19,899.12 a year.

I also have the March 2006 BASIC health insurance data; the totals for him and his wife were $1379.20 a month or $16,550.04 a year back then. That doesn't include his Medicare reimbursement, so you can add about a $1,000 more for an annual total between $17,000 - $18,000 back then. So how exactly is this additional Medicare reimbursement check somehow making things even again?

Well, let's look at what the township is paying for the other two trustees' BASIC health insurance. Remember, this just the "BASIC" health insurance package for these years and does not include the dental/vision/life, let alone their salary or PERS retirement contribution.

TRUSTEE #2 for 2007 = $1301.32 a month ($15,615.84 year), 2006 = $982.38 a month ($11,788.56 year).

TRUSTEE #3 for 2007 = $1338.61 a month ($16,063.32 year), 2006 = $1184.15 a month ($14,209.80 year).

So you tell me, does this show that all three trustees are even? Or has our oldest trustee actually been getting the township to pay him way more then anyone else? So is what is being said reflectthe facts?

Personally, I see a complete misrepresentation of the facts. Consider also that the above numbers DO NOT include the basic trustee salary, the PERS retirement contribution or the dental/vision/life insurance costs! So now let's include everything to come up with a TOTAL COMPENSATION PACKAGE for our oldest trustee. This adds up to nearly $35,000 for 2007 and approximately $32,000 in 2006. Interesting numbers are they not? How many of you were knew this? Any of you ready to get a petition to run for trustee yet?

Each year the county does a total compensation package work up for each employee. This is a great tool to show employees what the county is providing them. The total package is far more than the hourly rate or salary. When I tried to get this data from our township fiscal officer,she said it isn't available in that format. So I had to compile it on my own and adding it all up.

I believe this data should be compiled annually and made readily available to us taxpayers. Do you agree?

Anyway, at least the additional costs, with the exception of PERS, are almost the same for each trustee. Once I saw the hard numbers, I realized that my "perception" was really quite different from reality. Once I started requesting and reviewing the actual records, I discovered that a lot of the GOB talk is just about making things up along the way. They have been able to do this for many years, since they know most people will not take the time or effort to seek and then review the actual records. Mind you, from my experience, most of the government runs like this, so it's not a real surprise to me. The more "we the people" don't pay attention and check things out personally, the more out of whack things get.

It would really be interesting to findout how the concept of a separate Medicare reimbursement came up and was discussed by the board. I also wonder how many readers believe that trying to make health insurance benefits somehow even out even makes sense when the cost drivers for each trustee are primarily tied to age and number of family members. How would you come up with how to do it? Why would we even try? Shouldn't trustees be looking at reducing the cost of their benefits so more money would be available to actually benefit residents? We could certainly use more money for road maintenance. Remember, they've said they don't even have enough money for salt or brine to treat our roads for snow or ice.

Personally, I believe they should be paying for at least "some" of these costs out of pocket, say pay for at least 30% of their basic health insurance? How many of you can still get 100% free coverage now? How many of you working part-time even get any paid health insurance benefits?I am quite satisfied with the 30% that I have to pay out of pocket for mine. I have absolutely no control over this; my contribution could increase any time. With the economy moving downward, the treasure chest may need replenished and the rank and filegovernment worker bees are typically easy pickings.

On the other hand, the trustees have absolute control over what they get and could reduce their benefit percentage at any time. They can't increase it during their term, but they are already at 100%. But this won't happen unless "we the people/voters" get involved and ask for it. Or elect some trustees (we need two out of three to agree on this) that WILL look at this & then do something about it. Will Kern Bowling Green Township

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