News and Tribune

June 11, 2013

Ex-mayor’s repayment still to be determined

England cited over health benefits for employees

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY —

A resolution over health coverage expenses state auditors decided that former New Albany Mayor Doug England owed the city hasn’t been reached. 

A State Board of Accounts audit published in March stated that England should compensate the city for about $8,500 in health benefits that were supplied to municipal workers during his administration in 2011. 

About $3,300 of the sum was tied to health coverage England approved for retiring, non-union employees who had at least 10 years of employment with the city. 

England was one of three New Albany employees who accepted the coverage in 2011. England signed an executive order that year that OK’d the coverage, though the policy was vetoed by Mayor Jeff Gahan in 2012. 

Former New Albany firefighter Nicholas Shavers also received $5,200 in insurance benefits after being fired by the city, as he was covered under the municipal plan for three more months after being let go in August of 2011. 

Bryan Corbin, a spokesman with the Indiana Attorney General’s office, said Monday the issue is still under review. 

“The attorney general’s office does not determine audit amounts to be repaid but rather seeks to obtain repayment on behalf of our clients, the state board of accounts,” he said. 

“Our office is currently evaluating how best to resolve the issue.” 

England defended his motives when the audit was first published, as he said he was only attempting to provide health coverage for workers who had dedicated several years of service to the city. 

“I have not done anything immoral,” England said. 

City Attorney Stan Robison, who was hired by Gahan in 2012, defended England in a response letter addressed to the board of accounts last year. 

“Mayor England did not grant or create new insurance plans for individuals,” Robison stated in the response. “He authorized, through executive order, certain employees with a minimum amount of years service with the city health insurance options upon their retirement to receive the same option as a union retiree.” 

However, state auditors stated in their report that the New Albany employee manual doesn’t provide for insurance benefits for non-bargaining employees upon retirement. 

England said in March he would await a decision from Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office before taking any action on the state ruling.