|Council Denies City Manager Plan
To Feather Retiree Nests
Vote fails 4 to 4 after City Manager lobbies Council to extend
emplyee benefits to retirees and lashes out after vote
Loveland - July 15, 2008
The Loveland City Council, absent Mayor Pielin, split on a 4 to 4 vote to continue
providing health benefits for certain city employees who retire early before
reaching 65 years of age (the city's normal age of retirement for non-emergency
personnel). After the measure failed to garner a majority of the council's
support, City Manager Don Williams angrily shot back partisan comments
towards Councilman Skowron who was vocal in opposing the measure.
Williams, born December 20, 1947, helped craft the plan that isn't based on need,
job type or any criteria other than time of service and age which he and only 22
other senior and mostly highly paid city employees neatly fit into this year. City
staff has speculated Williams is trying to feather his nest in preperation for an
Mayor Pro Tem David Clark, who chaired the meeting, asked if Williams had any
comments immediately following the vote. Williams first stated, "Yeah I do, but I
ought to keep it to myself." Moments later Williams spoke anyway by attacking
Skowron's comments and angrily denouncing the council's decision. Clark asked
earlier if there was any interest in bringing the proposal back when other
information is provided and several councilors indicated they did want to have
staff look into some questions and bring the item back perhaps in a future study
Williams angrily stated, "If council wants to bring it up in the retreat next year - go
ahead but staff will not bring it up again [this year]." LovelandPolitics learned
that councilors from both sides have privately communicated their desire to have
the issue return and expressed their concern that Williams was telling them what
they could or could not put on the agenda.
The proposal, named the 80 plan, proposed providing city employees of 20 years
or more who have reached the age of 60 health insurance for the next 5 years if
they retire and was presented by Loveland's Human Resource Director Todd
Gamble. Gamble provided a letter to the City Council stating,
"The retiree medical plan is designed to provide access to affordable medical coverage
for eligible City employees who retire from employment with the City. The plan will
be available for the next five years for employees who retire with no less than 20
years of service and are at least age 60. Eligible retirees can only be covered under
the plan until age 65."
Councilman Walt Skowron questioned the special benefit being provided to
departing city employees at a time when the private sector is hurting and benefits
are being cut. Similar comments were also made by his colleagues concerned
about the cost to the city and lack of pertinent data like information on what
other municipalities provide.
Councilman Glenn Rousey appeared irritated as he engaged Skowron in a
back-and-forth argument over whether the Council had been provided sufficient
information. Rousey complained the issue had been around for 4 years and that
council already heard a presentation on it during a study session. Councilman
Kent Solt commented since he was new to the Council he didn't have the benefit
of that history and supported discussing it at a future study session.
Rousey offered an alternative to cover emergency service personnel only
beginning at age 55 if they retire (emergency service personal may retire at an
earlier age). While the vote for the alternative failed, Councilman Cecil Gutierrez
expressed interest in supporting the measure in the future if he could have more
information. Gutierrez also stated his no vote on the 80 plan as a "reluctant no"
since he wants to especially support emergency service employees but needed
more time and information.
Curiously, the 80 plan being proposed covers only the next 5 years. Skowron
asked a number of questions to Gamble who responded, "I don't know" to which
Skowron proposed the item come back to council when they have better
information. The number 80 represents the total number of city employees who
may be eligible in the next 5 years for the benefit. Gamble reported only 15-20
employees each year would be eligible for the benefit if they retired before age
David Clark, in defense of the proposal, stated "If I had more information I
wouldn't know what to do with it.....I am not understanding, perhaps." The
councilors who voted for the plan, with the exception of Glenn Rousey, said very
little or nothing in the discussion.
|How they voted:
Walt Skowron, Darryl Klassen, Cecil
Gutierrez and Kent Solt.
David Clark, Carol Johnson, Glenn
Rousey and Larry Heckel
|"If I had more information I
wouldn't know what to do with it"
Mayor Pro Tem
|"If council wants to bring it up in the retreat
next year - go ahead but staff will not bring it
up again [this year]."
City Manager Don Williams
In Response To Council's Request the Item
Be Brought to Study Session
|Above: Councilman Walt Skowron lead the oppossition to a
proposal by Loveland's City Manager to provide employee health
benefits to early retirees, Councilman Rousey argued in favor.