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Portage County commissioners and the sheriff are in a budget battle brought on, in part, by health care provisions for part-time workers under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Sheriff David Doak has said he will cut the hours of part-time security staff at county courthouses and other buildings to cut hours for part-time workers and lessen the potential financial impact of health care costs next year.
Under the act, part-time employees who work an average in excess of 30 hours per week are eligible for health care coverage. Commissioners asked Doak to cut back the hours of his part-time deputies during a three-month "look back period." With 37 part-time deputies, having them eligible for health insurance could cost the county another $280,000 per year said Todd Bragg, the commissioners' budget management director.
At a contentious Sept. 5 meeting, a majority of commissioners refused to give the sheriff another $185,000 to keep him from going into the red by the end of the year.
Doak sent a letter to commissioners following the meeting proposing to cut the hours of part-time deputies, including several who provide security at the Kent and Ravenna courthouses, and county administration buildings:
One part-time deputy at the county courthouse in Kent will be cut from 39 to 29 hours while one deputy will remain full-time.
The Ravenna courthouse will see a cut of about 60 hours per week spread among part-time deputies.
Full-time coverage at the county administration building and the Riddle Block will be cut and one deputy will patrol back and forth between the two.
Three deputies overseeing inmate workers will be cut, eliminating mowing at the county dog pound and adjacent facilities and outside painting and maintenance work.
Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio said she wanted to give the sheriff the money out of the county's stabilization fund, but didn't receive support from the other commissioners.
The stabilization fund has about $900,000 and was intended for emergencies and to see the county through the first quarter of a new year until property tax revenues begin to flow. It would lessen the reliance on a cash carryover of unspent money from one year to the next, Bragg said.
Commissioner Kathleen Chandler said she was reluctant to tap the stabilization money for the sheriff's budget because it was not a true emergency.
At the Sept. 5 meeting, Commissioner Maureen Frederick urged Doak to make the cuts in hours needed to stay within the budget or face end-of-year problems.
"Your not going to like it and we're not going to like it and it's going to mean some huge cuts," Frederick said.
Thursday, when they reviewed the sheriff's letter, Marsilio again said she was willing to give the sheriff whatever he needed to keep the security hours.
Marsilio said she believed the cuts in hours were because "he had no other option."
"I think he has other options. I think he's doing it to be punitive," Chandler responded.
"Would you be willing to put any money on the table so the sheriff could prioritize?" which positions to fund, Marsilio asked.
Chandler said the sheriff "can prioritize now" without additional money.
Chandler said she was frustrated with the sheriff's budget growing beyond the original appropriation each year. In the past six years, commissioners have allocated additional funds ranging from $431,128 in 2007 to nearly a million dollars last year.
So far this year, commissioners have added $447,946 to the sheriff's original appropriation of $11,707,913.
Increases for the sheriff's office budget averaged 6.2 percent for 2010 through 2012 while commissioners, auditor, prosecutor, recorder and treasurer saw their budgets decrease.
Doak and commissioners had discussed a budget correction when there was additional revenues certified by the county budget commission. But, at the Sept. 5 meeting, commissioners said they were told there would not be any new certification, or not at least until December -- too late to adjust the sheriff's budget.
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Facebook: Mike Sever, Record-Courier
I think the Sheriff has atleast 6 Deputies working at the task farce. Being that there is little, if anything going on there, would be a great place to start cutting the fat. Next would be Major "CHAOS" Kelly, this lunatic could and eventually will cost the county an enormous amount of money as it relates to civil litigation. The 'GRIM REAPER" Ricky Neal would be another avenue to explore. How many deaths is this guy responsible for? Thank gosh for "MALPRACTICE" insurance. We could go on and on... It just makes "CENTS"!!!!!
Hey Mike - paragraph 11 - what does "It would lessen the reliance on on a cash carryover of unspent money from one year to the next, Bragg said" mean? The 'stabalization fund' would lessen the reliance on a cash carryover and when was the stabilization fund created? Thanks!
How many part time employees working how many hours does Portage County have, in addition to the deputies. Do you know?
Has the sheriff never heard of a BUDGET? You manage your department within a budget just like everyone else does.
$185,000 over budget?!!? Are you kidding? I think he needs to worry about his accounting department rather than mowing lawns at the dog pound.
I applaud the comissioners who did not cave in like Tommie. Taxpayers are sick and tired of this type of waste and irresponsible, endless spending by our elected officials.
Enough is enough already!!
The sheriff is doing the right thing by cutting hours to avoid outrageous Obamacare costs.
This is not even a liberal versus conservative debate. This is reality. $280,000 doesn't grow on trees, you know.
The sheriff is doing exactly what most other business in the country are doing because of Obamacare: cutting hours.
Don't blame the Sheriff, he is just trying to make ends meet, and keep out of the Red. If folks want to blame anyone, blame the Democrats, and those that voted for President Obama. He told us he was going to change this country. Well, how is that HOPE & CHANGE working out??? We are going broke, more poverty, more welfare than ever before in American history, and President Obama has made America a LAUGHING STOCK & PAPER TIGER in theeyes of the world.
Obama's greatest accomplishment is Obamacare, which the Democrats rammed down the throats of the American people. Nobody wants it. Not the Unions, Not the Congress, Not the IRS, and Not a good portion of the American people.
"We are going to Fundamentally Transform the United States of America." quote Barack Obama...
"But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi Democrate California 2010
Excerpts from article: dyn.politico.com by Brett Norman September 12, 2013
"AFL-CIO demands changes to Obamacare"
The AFL-CIO has approved a resolution calling Obamacare "highly disruptive" for some union health plans and seeking changes to key provisions of the health law that affect these plans, known as Taft-Hartley plans.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the resolution raises the issue of whether "low- and moderate-income union members and their collectively bargained health care plans will be able to benefit from the same premium support that big insurance companies will receive and if they will have to pay fees to subsidize big insurance companies," a statement on the AFL-CIO site reads. "There also are concerns that smaller employers will be able to get away with taking health care away from workers while paying no penalty."
The resolution says that "contrary to the law’s intent, some workers might not be able to keep their coverage and their doctors because the federal agencies’ current implementation plans will be highly disruptive to the operation of Taft-Hartley multiemployer plans." It says it could affect millions of workers and their families.
Some unions also object to the law’s penalties that they say are compelling employers to limit workers’ hours to less than 30 per week, eroding the traditional 40-hour week.****************
Excerpts from: washingtonpost.com by Jennifer Rubin, Published: September 11 2013
"Obamacare debate becomes Liberalism’s Last Stand"
Lliberals, interestingly, have Stopped Defending what is in Obamacare and made the battle over the implementation of the flawed plan; it is now for them merely a fight to prevent those meanie Republicans from blocking a plan the public doesn’t want or like. Republican critics, however, do talk about what is in Obamacare – unprepared exchanges, an invitation for fraud (income verification is on the honor system), dropped coverage, reduction in work hours and premium hikes. That is in and of itself telling.
What is also noteworthy is how exercised Big Labor has become over the imposition of legislation that will tax and thereby wreck generous health-care plans they have negotiated (and in some cases struck over) for decades. It is as if labor bosses just figured out how rotten Obamacare is for their members.
The Hill reports:
A top labor official is pushing the AFL-CIO to ratchet up its criticism of ObamaCare at its annual convention.
Terry O’Sullivan, President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), on Tuesday said a draft resolution that bashes the healthcare law doesn’t go far enough.
O’Sullivan and LIUNA have raised concerns about the healthcare law and its effect on union plans, and have been pushing to debate the law out in the open. . . .
We are supportive of fixing parts of ObamaCare and our primary objective is to change it. But if it can’t be Changed, then it Needs to be "REPEALED".
From Sen. Harry Reids home state Nevada
Excerpts from article: lasvegassun.com Published Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
"Nevada AFL-CIO Condemns Provision of Obamacare"
The union claims certain provisions of the law would destroy union health plans, making the usual staunch allies of President Barack Obama just the latest Las Vegas union to publicly condemn the health care law.
Union leaders are concerned with a provision of the law that call for the provision of health insurance for people who work more than 30-hours per week, meaning workers’ hours could be cut so that employers don’t have to provide health insurance.
"The unintended consequences of the ACA will lead to the "Destruction of the 40 Hour Work Week", Higher Taxes and Force Union Members onto more Costly Plans," the resolution reads.**********************************
Excerpts from Union letter: WSJ.com 12 July 2013
Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:
When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but "Destroy the Foundation of the 40 Hour Work Week" that is the backbone of the American middle class.
Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios:
First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.
Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be Relegated to Second-Class Status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.
On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will Destroy the Very Health and Wellbeing of our members along with Millions of other Hardworking Americans.
We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is HOLLOW.
We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the Law as it stands will Hurt Millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.
We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.
James P. Hoffa General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Joseph Hansen International President
D. Taylor President
Excerpt from: washingtonexaminer.com by JOEL GEHRKE | JULY 26, 2013
"IRS Employee Union: We don’t want Obamacare"
IRS employees have a prominent role in Obamacare, but their Union wants no part of the law.
National Treasury Employees Union officials are urging members to write their congressional representatives in opposition to receiving coverage through President Obama’s health care law.
The union leaders are providing members with a form letter to send to the congressmen that says "I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act." The NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees overall, including most of the nearly 100,000 IRS workers.************************
Excerpts from article update: reuters.com by David Lawder...Wed Aug 7, 2013
"U.S. Congress wins relief on Obamacare Health Plan Subsidies"
WASHINGTON, Aug 7- Congress has won some partial relief for lawmakers and their staffs from the "Obamacare" health reforms that it passed and subjected itself to three years ago.
In a ruling issued on Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through soon-to-open exchanges created by President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.
The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama's blessing, will prevent the largely unintended Loss of Healthcare Benefits for 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives and thousands of Capitol Hill staff.
When Congress passed the health reform law known as Obamacare in 2010, an amendment required that lawmakers and their staff members purchase health insurance through the online exchanges that the law created. They would lose generous coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.******************************
QUOTE: But for us Democrats, Obamacare is a Badge of Honor. Because no matter who you are, what stage of life you're in, This Law is a Good Thing.
Kathleen Sebelius...Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
"WELCOME to OBAMALAND"
The implication that this change is a result of the healthcare act (that doesn't go into effect until next year) is a joke. The cuts are the result of poor planning year after year.
I have serious concerns about legitimate problems that were not addressed in this article.
1. Sheriff Doak has 37 employees that are working an average of 30 hours per week, just short of the current 40 hour requirement for health care coverage. This may benefit the Sheriff; however, it short-changes those 37 families by denying them health care. I understand his need to balance his budget, however, using employees in this manner is abusive and unacceptable. This is not an example of good leadership.
2. The article implies that the budget issues are a direct result of the Affordable Healthcare Act (a.k.a. Obamacare); however the true direct cause is decades of out-of-control health care costs due to the overcharging by the health insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry and medical device industry. These industries have dumped sick people to prop up their bottom lines and satisfy investors/Wall Street. The Affordable Healthcare Act is simply an attempt to control costs and, as a result, all citizens now have to bear the burden of these unscrupulous industries.