North Greenbush Democrats

North Greenbush Democrats
Fighting For You!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Board Action on Insurance Giveaways Must Include Payback and Audit

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley said today that Board reaction to his disclosures of abuse and mismanagement of town funds misspent on insurance buyouts and coverage of non employees MUST include firm action to reimburse taxpayers and an independent audit of all those receiving health insurance on a yearly basis.

"It is a step in the right direction to act Thursday night to stop the mismanagement and misappropriation of town funds, however, the town bank account has been fleeced by a reckless Supervisor and the Board has a responsibility under State Law to recover all misspent funds" stated Ashley.

Ashley also called on the Town Board to reintroduce a failed Resolution offered earlier this year by Councilman Michaels that would require TWO signatures on town checks providing a safeguard and check on such lawless distribution of town funds. "At the time, the Board voted 4 to 1 not to require a second signature on the checks in a gesture of "trust" of the Supervisor. Now perhaps they understand why this common sense business and accounting practice is needed, especially with this Supervisor." The fact is that had Mr. Desso and the Board passed this, these payments approved by his running mate, Mr. Evers, they could have been prevented.

Ashley also asked why it took Board members months to stop this fleecing of taxpayers. When questioned at one Board meeting as to "who" told employees who were not eligible for buyout checks they could have them anyway, Board members refused to finger their running mate, the Town Supervisor, apparently still trying to protect him. The Democratic Chairman also noted comments by Councilman Desso in the Record that raise questions. "Desso said that the board did not question Wessels' buyout for 2008 because town Supervisor Mark Evers promised it to her when she dropped her coverage. But he said that earlier this year, he (Desso) tried to prevent Strenka's payment. "We asked the supervisor not to pay it, and we asked the comptroller not to ask for it," Desso said, but the check was signed." "It is not enough to simply "ask" as an elected Board member, not to take money because your running mate, the Town Supervisor "promised" someone town money illegally, stated Ashley. You have a responsibility to act.

Ashley also criticized the Supervisor for apparently forgetting that for 3 of the past 5 years, Mark Evers was standing guard as our Town Supervisor, allowing vender Thomas Murley to fleece taxpayers who paid his health insurance. "But this is the same Supervisor who dished out an $83,000 Christmas check in December 2006 to his friends in the Conservative Party that hold the Water 14 contract after being told there was no more bond money, so how can we expect him to realize that the responsibility to prevent misappropriations of town funds is ultimately his? That money is being reimbursed to the General Fund with other misspent funds to the contractor totaling $269, 000, because of a vote to pay the contractor another MILLION DOLLARS for a Water 14 court settlement. All this overspending was on Evers watch.

Ashley called on the Board to require Murley and all others who received town funds illegally, to reimburse the town. He also voiced support for a cap on further insurance buyouts no greater than 50% of the current Single Coverage premium and a requirement that one MUST be enrolled in the insurance to receive any buyout. Otherwise taxpayers will continue to pay twice for insurance of at least two employees who now "double dip", receiving their insurance from other public sector jobs while grabbing a buyout here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ashley Calls on Evers to Suspend Insurance Buyouts Pending Review of Contract

December 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley today called on Supervisor Mark Evers to submit to common sense procedures by suspending today's likely insurance buy out payments to town employees covered by a UPSEU contract.

On November 19, 2008, I wrote to the town board urging their review and immediate action to stop this fleecing of town taxpayers and no one has responded, stated Ashley. I warned in that letter that in 2008 alone, a GROSS amount of $28,104.14 has been paid out to nine town employees. "Unless you act immediately, another equal payment will be made before the end of this year permitting employees to receive a payment equal to 51% of the premium that the town would pay for coverage of the employee. Therefore your immediate action to suspend further payments until a determination is made is critical to protect taxpayers".

Today is payday in town hall, stated Ashley and these checks have likely been delivered for distribution. Ashley asked whether more people who are specifically excluded from this union contract as "eligible" would be given another Christmas present by the town supervisor without legal review or town board affirmation? Both the Comptroller and Deputy Clerk were given buy out checks last time even though their titles are not covered by the union contract. Will they now be allowed to receive part two of this payment?

Ashley further questioned whether vender Thomas Murley who in his view is illegally receiving taxpayer funded health insurance despite not being a town employee or a retiree with sufficient service is also "eligible" for an illegal buyout check rather than continued illegal coverage at $5,124.00 a year. Since the union contract provides a 51% buyout for covered people who opt out, Murley, though not eligible as a non employee or non union member could grab a check for $2613.00 since Mr. Evers allows him on the town insurance and has allowed others not covered by the contract to receive this benefit. As a result of the manner in which town insurance is being mis-managed, Ashley called for procedures to be put in place that would require the Town Comptroller to conduct a yearly audit of eligibility for continued coverage which would also determine whether spouses and dependent children continue to be eligible under family coverage. Such a policy should be mandated at every level of government.

Today, more than $28,000 could go out the door in highly questionable payments to town employees and non town employees alike the way Mark Evers does things, stated Ashley. "This is gross mismanagement and where is the town board while this is happening? Ignoring my warning letter and apparently "Out to lunch"", concluded Ashley.

    Dan Ashley

    Chairman, NGBDC

    

November 19, 2009

Town Board Members

Gentlemen:

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act raise questions as to how and why a contractual employee or vender is being provided taxpayer funded health insurance by the town's provider, CDPHP.

Vender Thomas Murley is listed on a CDPHP document as a covered employee of the Town of North Greenbush. The document reflects a "Billing Period of 11/01-11/30/08". Mr. Murley was only an employee of the town for a period of just over 5 years from January 1999 until July 2004. Therefore under what authority has he been permitted to have taxpayer funded health insurance after his severance from the town payroll? Clearly, his status as a vender does not qualify him or any other vender for taxpayer funded health insurance. Certainly 5 years of service does not qualify anyone for a lifetime health insurance benefit.

I must call upon each of you to review this taxpayer funded benefit to Mr. Murley and determine whether steps should be taken to obtain a refund of town funds and an immediate cessation to further health insurance payments on his behalf. A Resolution of the Board directing the Town Comptroller would accomplish this.

In addition, I call upon each of you to take appropriate steps to order an immediate review of all payments made to town employees in the past two years as a "buy out" for opting out of the town's employee health insurance policy. It is clear that payments were authorized to individuals who were not eligible to receive them since they are not a party to any collective bargaining unit which incorporates such a benefit. Further, I call upon you to freeze further payments under the collective bargaining agreement until the town board and its legal counsel, make a determination as to the propriety of the payments made for 2007 and 2008. Specifically, it is necessary to determine whether employees who were never enrolled in the town health insurance are eligible to receive a payment for opting out of a program in which they were never enrolled as a prerequisite for eligibility. If the town board determines these payments were inappropriate, I call upon you to recover these substantial funds as necessary.

In 2008 alone, a GROSS amount of $28,104.14 has been paid out to nine town employees. Unless you act immediately, another equal payment will be made before the end of this year permitting employees to receive a payment equal to 51% of the premium that the town would pay for coverage of the employee. Therefore your immediate action to suspend further payments until a determination is made is critical to protect taxpayers.

I urge you to prevent the town supervisor from continuing to unilaterally issue payments to employees without the authorization of the town board.

    Sincerely,

    Daniel C. Ashley

CC: State Comptroller