News and Tribune

Floyd County

March 14, 2013

Audit: England should repay money to city

Former mayor defends benefits for retired, non-union employees

NEW ALBANY — State auditors are calling for former New Albany Mayor Doug England to reimburse the city for expenses related to executive orders and decisions he made in 2011, but he insisted Wednesday the charges are misguided. 

The State Board of Accounts released its audit of England’s last year in office this week, and the report stated the former mayor was not authorized to extend insurance benefits for outgoing employees. 

England signed an executive order in 2011 making health insurance benefits available to retiring, non-union employees that had at least 10 years of employment with the city. 

The policy was in effect for January and February of 2012 before Mayor Jeff Gahan rescinded England’s executive order and ended the insurance offering. Three retiring employees, including England, accepted the insurance coverage in 2011. 

State board of accounts’ officials stated in the audit that the New Albany employee manual doesn’t provide for insurance benefits for non-union employees upon retirement. 

The employee manual was approved through the New Albany Board of Works. The New Albany City Council also hasn’t approved a resolution or ordinance allowing retiring, non-union employees to receive insurance benefits. The combined cost for the health coverage for two months was $3,300, and the auditors are requesting the money be paid back to the city. 

England said Wednesday that only a handful of city workers aren’t offered retirement health coverage, and that doesn’t seem fair. 

“It’s very discriminatory,” England said. 

Board of works members are selected by the mayor, and England said he could have gone to the body to change the policy. However, England said at the advice of legal counsel, he elected to sign the executive order to provide the benefits. 

Current City Attorney Stan Robison supported England’s right to establish such a retirement policy under city ordinance in a response letter addressed to the state board of accounts last year. 

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