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Brentwood Aldermen Vote to End Health Care Insurance Again

The city attorney convinced them their July 16 vote wasn't good enough.

The Board of Aldermen came to the Aug. 20 meeting with a revised agenda.

An item to end health care benefits for elected officials by ordinance was on the table. The board to end the health care benefit, but it was not an ordinance.

Alderwoman Maureen Saunders immediately moved to remove the item and send it back to the ways and means committee. Alderwoman Cindy Manestar seconded it.

Saunders said Alderman Tom Kramer, at the Aug. 7 ways and means committee meeting, brought forward the idea of ending the benefit by ordinance, instead of letting it end as a result of the July 16 vote.

Kramer said he had been contacted by more than one attorney after the July 16 vote to end the benefit, and he contacted Albrecht.

“I supplied some case law to our attorney (Albrecht), and mentioned I was concerned,” Kramer said. “I did not ask him to do anything, I merely presented information.”

Kramer added that he doesn’t see a reason for not wanting to “put a protective in place regarding this issue.”

“It is a grey area,” Albrecht said. “There is no clear defining line. In an abundance of caution I think it is best for the city it is done by ordinance.”

Saunders asked Albrecht what liability the city could be open to if it wasn’t ended by ordinance, and Albrecht said that was best discussed in executive session.

“I’ve never seen where this was adopted by ordinance, so we can’t end it by ordinance,” Saunders said. “A motion is perfectly fine.”

She said at most, since the benefit was adopted through the budget, it could be removed by amending the budget.

Mayor Pat Kelly said he agreed with Saunders that it was implemented at committee level, not by an ordinance, so it could be removed by a motion, but then said he agreed with Albrecht to err on the side of caution.

In the vote to remove the item from the meeting's agenda and send it back to ways and means, Saunders and Manestar vote yes, Andy Leahy abstained, and the rest voted to keep it on the agenda.

The board discussed the issue later, in an executive session, then came out in an open session to vote to end the health care benefits via ordinance.

It passed 6-1 with Leahy recusing himself.

“I voted no because the benefits were never authorized by ordinance,” Saunders said in an email the next day. “I have been asking for the ordinance where the benefits began since the day I was elected.”

“This ordinance just allowed the city to end the benefits thru an ordinance,” Saunders said. “A yes vote just meant you were saying the benefits needed to be ended by ordinance. It did not change the previous motion to end the benefits in any way. Since the alderman never had any proof as to how they obtained the benefits I could not vote to end the benefits through an ordinance.”

Read more on Brentwood's insurance for elected officials:

(Correction: This article previously stated that another vote would be taken to end the insurance by ordinance. In fact, the vote on Monday was the final vote, and the insurance for Brentwood's elected officials will end by that vote. The headline was changed to reflect this correction.)

Bill McKenzie August 22, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Both sides have a point. The aldermen deserve a chance to clarify a gray area by ordinance. But how can we end something by ordinance that was never authorized by ordinance? The solution is in the language of the proposed ordinance. Instead of "ending" by ordinance something that was never authorized by ordinance why not simply vote up or down on whether or not the City of Brentwood shall provide health insurance for elected officials? This will reveal each alderman's true leanings and allow an investigation into how health insurance for elected officials was ever authorized in the first place (which I would encourage alderwoman Saunders and Manestar to pursue). The citizens of Brentwood will be watching.

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