Liberty opt-out program ends

By D. Anthony Botkin -

Liberty Township is reducing the amount of cash payments that employees can receive in lieu of enrolling in the township’s health insurance plan.

Township trustees approved a resolution in a special session Tuesday, changing the opt-out insurance program. Instead of offering employees 50 percent of the township’s premium, the new resolution reduces that amount to 25 percent of the premium.

However, the resolution only affects two nonunion employees at this point. The township must convince its two employee unions to accept the reduced payment.

“We are now in compliance with the IRS,” said Nancy Denutte, fiscal officer. “The resolution speaks for itself.”

Denutte said she discovered a problem with the township’s program in June and said the program violated state law. She brought the issue to the attention of trustees on July 5.

Denutte told trustees Tuesday that the township’s attorney, Brad Bennett, “had spelled out everything” in the resolution so it is “very clear.”

Denutte said the program had been set up improperly under Ohio law. “We are really non-compliant,” Denutte said in July. “We need to cease payment immediately, according to (a legal) opinion, because we are (in violation of) the law.”

The reimbursement amount of the opt-out program for employees and township officials was 50 percent of the township’s insurance premium.

The new resolution now allows the program to be governed under a Ohio Revised Code statute that allows a reimbursement of 25 percent of the insurance premium to employees. “It allows for cash payments in lieu,” Denutte told trustees.

Denutte told trustees the resolution currently only covers employees who are not members of one of the township’s two employees unions. “It only covers two (nonunion) employees,” she said.

Trustees wrote the resolution to reflect that the unions are not yet affected. “This will not be effective with unions until an memorandum of understanding or other form of agreement is agreed upon and approved by the unions and the township,” the resolution states.

Denutte told trustees that Bennett will meet with union leaders about the recent changes.

By D. Anthony Botkin

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.