Former Lysander town councilor Russ Johnson is questioning the eligibility of Supervisor John Salisbury’s receipt of an insurance “opt out” bonus of more than $5,000. His concerns were raised at his last board meeting in December as an active town councilor.
At the January 2013 organizational meeting, the town board unanimously passed a resolution to amend its employee handbook with a health insurance buyout clause — employees that could prove they were already insured had the choice of turning down the town’s insurance coverage and as an incentive, receive 50 percent of the coverage premium, paid out over 12 months.
The town has two insurance options, one is with the Teamsters Local Union 317, a contract that has been in effect since 2009 and ends in June; the other is with the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP), a plan mainly used by retirees. The compensation, however, matches the Teamsters premium, said Town Comptroller Dave Rahle. Salisbury’s position is not listed as an eligible recipient for that particular coverage, said local union representative Steve Powers..
“When we did the participation agreement in 2009, there were positions that weren’t included,” Powers said. “[Barry] Bullis was supervisor at the time, and they wrote his position out because he didn’t need it.”
According to the 2013 Insurance Buy-Out report that the Messenger obtained through Johnson, Salisbury has received $5,082.50 to date. Total potential payout is listed as $6,955, with $1,872.50 slated as payment from October through December.
“On page one of the monthly participation agreement, which is attached to the contract, it specifically spells out those individuals, by position, who are part of this contract, who would be getting health benefits. The eligible folks,” Johnson said. “The town supervisor is not one of them.
“My argument is that board members and supervisors — I’d like to say they’re employees but they’re really public officers and you have to live by a higher standard — if you’re going to be given a penny more than what is articulated in the budget prior to the election, you have to account for that. Under no authority does he have the right to take — unilaterally — money and put it in his pocket from the taxpayers. It’s the height of hypocrisy when we just had three board members give the biggest tax increase in Lysander town history — with Reeves and Shimer and Salisbury — and it’s a shock to the conscience.