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Published: 7/11/2007

More city staff to pay share of health coverage

Toledo City Council voted yesterday to require its executive and exempt staff, including the mayor, to start paying a health insurance premium.

The requirement affects executive and appointed employees who don't have union representation, ranging from some mayors' assistants who are paid less than $25,000 a year, to directors, who are paid up to $92,500, and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who is paid $136,000 a year.

The legislation sets rates of $300 a year for a single employee, $480 for an employee with one additional person, and $660 for family coverage.

The exempt employees join approximately 220 members of Local 2058 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the 12 members of Toledo City Council in paying toward their own health care, starting this year.

Still not required to make premium co-pays are about 2,600 other city unionized workers.

The ordinance passed 11-0, with Councilman Phil Copeland absent.

Also yesterday, council voted to lease 35 new marked police cars from Charlie's Dodge in Maumee for $350,000 a year for three years, after which the city can buy the cars for $1.

Police Chief Michael Navarre said 2005 was the last year the police got new cars. He said on any given day about 100 cars are in use, many of them with more than 100,000 miles.

Council discussed at length whether to vote on a proposed charter amendment to require the mayor's proposed budget to be balanced when it comes to council on Nov. 15 each year, but ended by delaying the vote at least two more weeks to allow for a committee of the whole hearing.

The legislation, if approved, would put the question on the Nov. 6 ballot for city voters.

Sponsor Frank Szollosi said he proposed the change to force council and the mayor to agree sooner than the deadline of March 31 on how to eliminate the budget deficits that the city faces almost every year.

The debate focused on whether council is required to get a report from the city's Charter Review Committee.

Councilman Joe McNamara said he doesn't trust the current committee, in part, because it held what he said was an illegal meeting several weeks ago and attempted to hold another illegal meeting last Thursday.

"I find it highly ironic that the charter review commission has violated the charter," Mr. McNamara said.

Councilmen George Sarantou and Mark Sobczak said council has until Sept. 7 to vote to put the question on the ballot and should allow the Charter Review Committee to meet and make a recommendation.

The mayor first will have to fill the six to eight vacancies on the 15-member committee.

In other action, council approved a change in the hours that food pushcart vendors can operate on city streets, from the current 10 a.m. starting time to 6 a.m., and lengthened the minimum distance between a sidewalk vending stand and a permanent restaurant from 50 feet to 100 feet.

Also, Mr. Sarantou announced that the city's bond ratings have been kept unchanged this year, at "A" from Standard & Poor's and "A3 with a negative outlook" from Moody's Investors Service.



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