Manchester board balks at life insurance changes

Posted on Monday, July 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm

A proposed ordinance that would have reformed the way Manchester employees’ families are covered under the city’s life insurance failed to make it through the first reading at last Tuesday’s Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting .

The proposal, sponsored by alderman Cheryl Swan, would have changed the structure for how life insurance for city employees’ spouses and other dependents is paid for. Currently, employees are provided life insurance by the city and spouses and dependents are also covered in the policy at no extra cost. Swan’s proposal would have kept employees covered but made other dependents optional at an extra cost to the employee.

josh petersonThe measure would have saved Manchester government $1,150 per year on insurance costs and would have cost employees, if they wanted to exercise a life-insurance option on dependents, approximately 86 cents per month (or $10.32 per year), according to the Manchester finance department.

Aldermen Ryan French and Donny Parsley voted against the measure. Meanwhile, Swan, Russell Bryan and Tim Pauley were in favor. It needed four votes to pass. Roxanne Patton, who voted for the measure when it came before the finance committee, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“No more of a raise that we give our employees and we want to take something away from them,” Parsley later told the Times. “I can’t see the savings there. The figures don’t add up.

“I think there are other things we can cut. That’s just my opinion … let’s look at cutting some of these big salaries.”

When asked whose salary, Parsley wasn’t specific.

“I’m not saying anyone in particular.”

Parsley’s wife, Susan Parsley, is also a city employee. When asked, Donny Parsley said he did not view his vote as a conflict of interest.

“If anybody checked my records, long before my wife went to work up there I would have voted no on cutting employees benefits,” explained Parsley. “[City attorney] Gerald Ewell told me I didn’t have to [abstain]. This is not about my wife. That’s ridiculous.”

Pauley voted in favor of the ordinance to “close the budget gap.”

“I think it is 86 cents per month,” said Pauley. “That seems like … people spend more on a coke in my opinion. We are just trying to close the budget gap anyway we can. We aren’t trying to take anything away from employees. These are small steps that we can make in a responsible way as a board.

“There are not too many places to close the gap.”

Swan, who sponsored the ordinance, said every little bit counts.

“Any bit of savings that we can find for our city is a savings for tax payers,” Swan said in a text to the Times. “No matter if it is $1,500 or $15,000. What some may not realize is that $1,500 can buy one complete set of turnout gear for the firefighters and still have $540 left toward another set. Also, $1,500 can pay for the clothing allowance for our street and water departments annually. Also, $1,500 could have paid half of the price for the new weapons for the police department because they traded in their old weapons and saved more money that way.

“That $1,500 can add up over 10 years and go toward the purchase of a new patrol car. Just like setting up a savings account for capital improvements is not a bad idea instead of borrowing money every time we turn around. I would love to see us find even the smallest amount to save and let it add up for big items.”

The Manchester board recently voted to pass its budget for fiscal year 2014 with a one-percent raise for full-time employees without raising taxes. The property tax rate remains at 2.2999.

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