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Health Benefit Debate Continues at City Council Meeting

Emotions ran high in the main chambers of Glen Cove City Hall last Tuesday, where several parties voiced their opinions on the recent passage of a resolution regarding health care coverage for city employees, including the city council and city attorney. After calling for a freeze in health benefits for city council members in a press release and urging the citizens of Glen Cove to voice their opinions at the public meeting, Republican Committee Chairman Paul Meli addressed the issue to the council during the public discussion period.

At the final meeting of 2010, the city council approved a resolution granting full-time non-union employees the same benefits as CSEA union workers. Meli questioned the coverage for city council members, who are part-time city employees, and elected officials. According to the Republican chairman, the wording of the resolution did not make it clear to the public that city council members were eligible for these benefits.

“You should give the public an explanation for why you feel you are eligible for health benefits and then vote on it,” he told the city council members.

“This is the same resolution that has been passed every year. The language is the same as previous years,” said Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi.

Resident Filomena Ricciardi condemned the resolution and said to the mayor, “You previously said these are the worst economic times you have seen. So tell me, how does it affect you? You have the same salary and benefits… You raise taxes and at the same time think it’s appropriate to grant benefits.”

“Taxes are a function of the government, they cover expenses such as snow plowing, maintaining public parks, etc. Taxes support the operation of government on behalf of the people,” Mayor Suozzi responded.

“This is not a time to run things as normal,” Ricciardi replied.

“Before economic times got difficult, the city council saved money by voting [strategically on important] issues, and have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And we’ve avoided many tax increases,” said the mayor.

The city attorney tried to offer an explanation, stating that the distinction goes beyond full-time or part-time and to distinguish is unfair. He said the council members receive an annual salary and the duties of public officers are more involved than what the public was debating.

“As elected officials, you work for us. People will lose their benefits [in the private sector] as a result of you passing this resolution,” a resident said.

Resident Pasquale Cervasio said, “Only people in the private sector are affected by the economy, not the public [sector]… I’m affected by loss of business, loss of income. You are not affected. There is a great disconnect,” he said to the council.

“I’m disturbed that anyone has this attitude toward any employee,” said resident Glenn Howard. “However, I would like to see this same energy at the school board meetings; the school tax is where our money goes and that budget is on the table.”

Resolutions Passed

 

The city council authorized a contract change order for “City Contract No. DPW 2010-18” that was awarded to Stanco Enterprises, Inc. of Brookville on Nov. 23, 2010, for the net increase amount of $595.

Daniel Russell was appointed city historian, effective Jan. 26, with no annual salary.

“Resolution 7D,” dated Jan. 11, regarding Susan Chiclacos, was amended to state an annual salary of $67,762 (Grade 13, Step 28).