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November 8, 2012

New Albany City Council attempting to centralize record-keeping

Health insurance for part-time workers moves ahead in New Albany

NEW ALBANY —  New Albany City Councilwoman Shirley Baird is the sponsor of an ordinance that would require all municipal boards, commissions and officers to file copies of contracts, executive orders and interlocal agreements with the City Clerk.

The measure was approved 6-3 on initial readings Monday. While some of the documents may already be on file with the clerk, Baird said the measure is a way to ensure pertinent files can be easily accessed by storing them in one location.

“To me it’s just common sense,” she said.

However those opposed to the ordinance asserted the requirement could be burdensome for the city clerk. Councilman Dan Coffey even alluded to what has been sometimes frayed relations between certain members of the council and Mayor Jeff Gahan.

“I know what this is really about,” Coffey said, as he along with Councilmen Pat McLaughlin and Greg Phipps voted against the measure on first and second readings.

Coffey said he’s had difficulty locating certain documents under past administrations, but added he hasn’t had that problem under Gahan.

But Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede countered that the legislation isn’t about a specific administration, but rather to establish guidelines to be followed in the future.

City Clerk Vicki Glotzbach said filing the extra documents in her office would require more work, but added that it wouldn’t be too cumbersome to manage.

The final reading for the ordinance will likely be held Thursday.

Employee insurance moves forward

The council approved on first and second reading offering an insurance subsidy to part-time employees that earn at least $700 a month.

Last month in a debated move, the council abolished its own insurance option. No other part-time employees in the city were offered health insurance, which is one reason some opposed council members being able to receive the benefits.

Council members can opt into the new plan if its approved on final reading. However, instead of paying 10 percent of their insurance premiums annually, health coverage would likely be a little bit more expensive for council members.

The ordinance — sponsored by Councilman John Gonder — establishes a pool of $148,500 that would be spread equally toward part-time employees’ insurance premiums. The amount is based on the $16,500 annually it would have taken to foot each premium for a family plan had all nine council members accepted the coverage.

Phipps supported Gonder’s measure, and said he voted to abolish the council coverage because it wasn’t fair to part-time employees.

“These are the people that really need health insurance,” he said.

Council members Scott Blair, Diane McCartin-Benedetti and Zurschmiede voted against the proposal. The measure also will likely receive a final vote Thursday.

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