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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How About Cutting Bethlehem City Council Health Benefits?

Mike Recchiutti
Last week, as a result of a desire to get hold of a looming $4 million deficit next year, Bethlehem City Council very somberly voted, 6-1, to impose a completely unenforceable hiring freeze. Never mind that they approved the budget that includes and funds all these positions. Never mind that the City would have to freeze 80 jobs to get to $4 million. It will look good in a campaign ad.

If Bethlehem City Council is really serious about saving money, they should start with themselves. Here's an idea! Since health care costs are spiraling out of control, why not eliminate the Cadillac health care benefits? Part-time City Council members, along with members of their family, don't have to worry about the medical and dental bills that plague everyone else. Let the taxpayers subsidize them, they say. This is sweet.

Lehigh and Northampton County's part-time legislators, who probably spend more time on the job than city council members, get no such benefit. Nor do most Township or Borough governments, where the focus is on public service. Locally, Easton City Council members stick it to the taxpayer for their health care costs, but they have a commuter tax.

In 2012, when John Callahan was still Mayor, he attempted to stop the obscene practice of letting taxpayers fund the health plans for these part-timers. He said it could save $70,000, though I think the savings is closer to about $20,000-30,000 per Council member.

Not surprisingly, Mike Recchiuti, the very Council member who proposed a freeze hiring because he so concerned about out-of-control costs, was unwilling to make any cuts that might impact him. Karen Dolan also voted this idea down.

So basically, these members of Council are willing to impose a hiring freeze that will reduce City services, but want to keep services that directly benefit them. In fact, last year, Dolan wanted to give city Council a raise.

They support cost cutting services to you, but not to them.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

MOLON LABE

Bernie O'Hare said...

I will be more than happy to oblige you. What would you like me to take first? Your gun collection, car or house?

MOLON LABE said...

SEND ORCLOWNSKI WITH HIS LIFTS TO COLLECT, CASTLE DOCTRINE IS PA LAW

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mezzacappa, when the time comes, and it is coming soon, you will be visited by Deputy Sheriffs who will have the appropriate papers to execute on your assets. I will forward your comment so they know how to handle you. You're done.

Anonymous said...

In fairness your buddies Cunningham and Cunningham lite, Callahan took the benefits as council men. so now it is an issue?

Where were you for the past three decades????

Bernie O'Hare said...

In fairness, they are not the hypocrites who proposed the hiring freeze, cutting services to the people so long as they still get theirs.

Anonymous said...

But they took the goodies non the less.

Anonymous said...

little mikie and his merry band of idiots are just cooking their own goose and aren't smart enough to figure that out.

BD will prevail, the voters will get their heads out and we just might get a real council.

Anonymous said...

No part time job should pay for medical benefits. It is bad enough that existing State Laws allow these part time officials to participate in the employees retirement plan. It should end there.

Anonymous said...

Put it to the voters, it's their tax dollar monies after all!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, does Council really have a retirement plan? I figured you would have mentioned that if it were true. Also, is there any way to actually know how much is spent on health care? Seems like a violation of privacy. You have raised an interesting point. But without all the information it is a bit difficult to have a truly informed opinion. T.W.R.

Anonymous said...

Cunningham and Callahan have not been on council in over a decade. Do you know how cheap medical benefits were 14 years ago? Oh that's right you don't pay health care either, everything you have is given to you by us, the tax payers, but that does not stop you from posting this stuff

Anonymous said...

Mike Recchiutti should resign

Anonymous said...

In this years budget season, City Council should drop the medical costs but they should also cut all the salaries of all the Administrations salaries by at least 20%. Let them all cut back.

Anonymous said...

And stop paying their laundry bills, buying them clothing and other items simply because they work for the city. Do businesses pay for employee's clothing simply by showing up for work?
If business is bad / off, I think not!

Anonymous said...

Does Council have the authority to cut salaries of the Admin?

Anonymous said...

Funny, the three(Donchez, Evans & Reynolds) who voted against the benefits were already on the public dime for benefits, and Reynolds and Donchez still were on the City insurance when they voted against it.

How many other part-time employees in the City get benefits? I am sure the the Controller and the part-time solicitors get it. They should be axed too.

Anonymous said...

As gay sex is un-natural sex, healthcare to city workers lovers should be eliminated as well.

Anonymous said...

Take the history out of it and just look at the wisdom of paying for health care benefits for these positions. I don't know what the compensation is for the council positions and I don't quarrel with a stipend for public service that takes as much time as this one does (or should if the job is done well). These days health insurance premiums are outrageously expensive. If council members have full-time jobs, that's where they should get there health insurance. If they don't have a full time job, they should get health insurance privately--and pay for it privately--like everyone else does these days. It's a good Right To Know Act question, Bernie--the cost of the total compensation package to council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" I am sure the the Controller and the part-time solicitors get it. They should be axed too."

I am all for elimination of benefits for PT city workers.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds. Evans and Donchez all get their health insurance through tax dollars as well. Point that out to the taxpayers. You can't get two heatlh insurance policies so they choose to get theirs from the school district and the government. Of course I am sure John Morganellit brought this to your attention too!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Karen, why don't you have Lynn Olanoff file a RTK about it? Nobody tells me what to write.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Does Council have the authority to cut salaries of the Admin?"

They have the ultimate authority. Not sure how long before a cut could go into effect.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, does Council really have a retirement plan? I figured you would have mentioned that if it were true. Also, is there any way to actually know how much is spent on health care? Seems like a violation of privacy. You have raised an interesting point. But without all the information it is a bit difficult to have a truly informed opinion. T.W.R. "

So far as i know, there is no pension fro them. I will look into this.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem City Council really is shameful!

Anonymous said...

Will Karen go back to being a teacher? Run for Mayor, the hills?

Anonymous said...

One party town. The sheep don't care.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Historically, Rs have done well in Bethlehem. I agree the dominance of one or another party is bad for democracy.

Anonymous said...

Norco "part-time" tipstaff should have their health benefits taken away as you state. This is probably the one and only time I agree with you.

They are just glorified butlers

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem council members do not get pensions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks. I did not think so.

Anonymous said...

Mike Recchiutti and Karen Dolan should resign and anyone else that refuses to eliminate an undue cost to the taxpayer. Part timers should not have healthcare paid for them and their family.

Full time city employees are working full time hours and should be entitled to healthcare for them and their families.

That's the problem with most politicians, their own and/or party agenda.