2009-01-10 / Editorials & Letters

'Watchdog' puts on the green eyeshades

Editor:

Lets face it, the way things are going, the tax $$ coming in are just not going to be there. So budgeting and planning is going to be a must from now on. But here is the problem, the Bowling Green GOB's seem to have run the township mainly "by the seat of their pants"; budgeting, data analysis, planning, organizing, coordinating and even communicating in writing are really something foreign to them. Until this year, our trustee board has tried to avoid the budget and health insurance topics entirely. But this year Trustee Jeff Chorpenning requested a special meeting be held to discuss these specific issues.

Personally, I expect our trustees to be able to answer such questions as what was our budget for health insurance, fuel, utilities, maintenance of vehicles, maintenance of buildings, manpower, road repairs etc. and exactly how are we doing on them. Without such data, how can anyone actually judge our elected officials and determine if they are really managing our tax $$ effectively. How would anyone know if there could have been even more work done on the roads, culverts & ditches? There are several townships, with similar budgets as ours that do NOT have any health insurance benefits. Some trustees have told me that unless they have at least a $500,000 budget, they really cannot justify this extra perk. But not our GOB's!

At this 15 Dec 2008 special meeting, Chorpenning was actually brave enough to put forth a formal resolution to do away with the 100% paid f health insurance perk. YES, YOU READ RIGHT…TO DO AWAY WITH IT ENTIRELY! That alone would give the township almost $44,000 more in the budget for the roads next year. The health insurance perks are a huge percentage of our current budget. This total is based on the current "monthly" cost for health insurance ($3,181.11), vision coverage ($76.77), dental coverage ($191.10), and life and cancer insurance (154.35). Chorpenning was not able to get a second from the GOB's, so his resolution just died on the vine. To put this in perspective, using the current figures, that would be a savings of $132,000 for the next three years alone!

Let's back up to March 2007, when the township was paying about $56,000 a year, or $4,229.69 a month just for basic health insurance. As I already noted in a previous letter, when I started asking questions about these rather exorbitant costs, the fiscal officer (April 07) did find some less expensive insurance. I should also note that back then, not a whimper was heard from the GOB's when insurance shot up about $500 a month (a full $6,000 a year). Why the huge increase? Apparently it was due to our GOB board president having a birthday! The only comment, with a chuckle along the way, was "well, I can't help it that I had a birthday". But that increase sure made my ears perk up and take notice! So what if we went backwards to determine what the township "could have saved" for the roads? You can see where a huge amount of our tax $$ actually went to.

Chorpenning proposed several other options to cut insurance costs, such as a cap on health insurance costs or requiring elected officials to pay a set percentage of the cost out of their pocket. In other words, the trustees would pay for part of their insurance costs versus getting 100% free coverage, no matter what it costs, as it stands now. He also suggested a 10%, 20% 30% and up to 50% contribution level phased in over the next five years. But guess what....he could not get any traction on any of these options either. Chorpenning did eventually get the GOB's to make what I call baby steps, as they all agreed to eliminate the vision coverage and life insurance for next year. That will save $2,773 per year.

So we have one trustee that is looking to cut our overhead costs and trying to make up a formal budget. The GOB`s on the other hand wanted to wait until they know how much we're going to get in tax revenue next year and whether health insurance will be less expensive from Ohio Insurance Services. Why? Will that change the facts we already know? Why would that prevent a vote to pay for some percentage of these costs, no mater what it ends up being? I should note that it was Chorpenning, who at the November 25 meeting, had arranged for a representative from the Ohio Insurance Services Agency to even come to discuss their "free" services. But as the GOB lynch mob always cries out "Chorpenning doesn't do anything"......"RIGHT!"

Yes, the roads do matter to those of us that live on a township road. But there is really much more to being a good trustee and manager of our tax $$. In the end you have to have two people agree and that is going to be the real challenge. I thought maybe this year would bring an end to the 100% free health insurance perk or at least get some control over these costs, but apparently that is not in the cards yet. In this day and age, getting 100% free coverage, for a very part-time job, is just way over the top! But unless we have more residents speak up, or have one more trustee besides Chorpenning, willing to consider giving up some of their current perks, this is just not going to happen.

Will "Watchdog" Kern Bowling Green Township

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