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Boardman levy threat sparks debate

Published: Thu, February 17, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



Is it an unfair labor practice to threaten withdrawing a police levy if new insurance plans aren’t approved?

Some experts say yes; another says it’s just hardball.

Township trustees have said they will take a 3.85-mill, five-year additional police levy off the May ballot if the township’s insurance committee does not approve a change in the health-insurance-plan design.


Special to the Vindicator

Boardman Administrator Jason Loree has set goals for himself and his colleagues that include regional planning and reanalyzing the town's current budget plans to better prepare for next fiscal year.

The township wants to change the design to get more competitive rates, said township Administrator Jason Loree.

The insurance committee has until April to reach an agreement, but trustees want a decision before March 1, because after that date the township would incur some election costs on the levy.

Atty. Kevin Powers, who represents the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the insurance committee was proposed by the township, and the township unions agreed to it. Decisions made by the committee are nongrievable.

“It’s really bizarre because this whole health-insurance committee was the employer’s agreement. Now they don’t want to let the process play out. They thought it was a good idea, and now they want to dictate,” Powers said.

“That’s the way a little kid behaves on the playground, saying, ‘If I don’t get my way, I’m taking my ball away,’” he added.

Charles E. Wilson, an associate professor of law, specializes in labor law at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

He said economic weapons, such as the police levy in this case, are considered “part and parcel of the process of peaceful collective bargaining,” but that the State Employment Relations Board and courts have put limitations on these.

Wilson said one of those limitations is that employers cannot use economic weapons unless the two sides are at an impasse — or deadlocked without an agreement.

Boardman is still negotiating with the health-insurance committee and has until April to reach an agreement.

“So, if the parties are not at impasse over the health-insurance issue, I believe that it is likely that SERB would find an unfair labor practice if the township were to take the police levy off the ballot,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s colleague, Professor Sarah Rudolph Cole, director of the Program on Dispute Resolution at OSU, said the threat might not be an unfair labor practice.

“It sounds like an extreme pressure tactic which may have negative consequence,” she said.

Cole also said that more of these situations might become more common.

“I do think that probably because a lot of townships, counties and cities are struggling [to make] sure budgets can pay for collective bargaining, they might tend to resort to more drastic tactics,” Cole said.

The health insurance has a zero-deductible policy that provides 100 percent coverage, specifically for in-and-out-patient hospitalization, Loree said, adding there is a $15 co-pay on a doctor’s office visit.

Loree said the firefighters union and the three police unions pay 10 percent of their premium contributions of health insurance, and a family plan costs about $1,881 annually. The road department union (Township Workers Association) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2498 union contribute 18 percent to their health insurance, which is about $3,387 annually for a family plan.

Loree has said previously the township’s goal is to get employees to pay a higher deductible and that the township will provide specific plan costs to the union before next week’s vote. Those specific costs were not available to employees before the two previous votes, he said.


1seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

“It’s really bizarre because this whole health-insurance committee was the employer’s agreement. Now they don’t want to let the process play out. They thought it was a good idea, and now they want to dictate,” Powers said.

“That’s the way a little kid behaves on the playground, saying, ‘If I don’t get my way, I’m taking my ball away,’” he added...WHAAAAA WHAAAAAA!!! The township realizes that they can not put the levy on the ballot when the money grubbing police, fire and road departments have not and will not make any concessions. How would that look? Asking the private sector to keep things status quo while we are all taking concessions and holding on to our jobs. These pompous asses just don't get it. The township has bent over for years, letting these unions dictate exactly what they want and they allowed it. Sorry for the fight now...

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Ohio Senate Bill 5 is coming that will change everything and level the playing field with public employee unions while significantly reducing the cost of government. It's about time the taxpayer comes first and the greedy public employee unions second. As for any Boardman levy, just say NO! Not needed after the senate bill passes.

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3NoBS(2757 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Wait - in yesterday's story, Costello implied heavily that there are no deductibles. Now the workers have them.

I've been asking all along - what does a $3.8 million police levy have to do with a projected insurance rate increase that could amount to $400K?

The Vindy needs to talk to Boardman's insurance committee - I'll bet they have some eye-opening details the trustees find inconvenient. The committee, for example, in their very first meeting, found a way to cut costs by $60K without even touching the current policies. The trustees were not one bit interested. Why not?

Come on, Vindy - get the other side, for once!

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4republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Government employees were too successful in negotiating pay and benefits over the past 20 years and it has caught up with them. Teachers, civil servants, etc must now face the real world and accept cuts to pay, hospitalization, and pensions that more match what private industry has. Board man appears to have been poorly served by fiscal manager Leicht and he should be terminated and Costello appears not much better and should be dumped in next election.

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5msweetwood(179 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Hey NoBS: Here's a quick primer on insurance terminologies to digest the difference between deductibles and co-pay: "A deductible is the amount you pay out of your own pocket before your insurance begins picking up any of the costs of health care," according to an insurance website. So, before your knee surgery, you are obliged, on many plans to cover up to the first $500. In Boardman Township that amount is zero at present. According to another insurance website, "A copayment - or copay - is the amount you - as an insured person - pay for an expense when you visit a doctor, laboratory, ambulatory care center, hospital, or pharmacy." Under the current plan, in Boardman, the copay is $15.

We are talking to everyone who will go on the record about this issue.

Hope this helps illuminate,

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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6apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

NoBS says they have a way to cut $60,000. Yeah, that's a drop in the bucket and it's by getting rid of the middleman who takes his cut $60,000. They have no other money saving ideas. Pocket change savings for Cadillac health care plans. Just like when they claimed CALEA would save us thousands. (Cost 200K and save $100 on insurance)

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7NoBS(2757 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Well, then it's obvious I'm not on any insurance committees, isn't it?

From the story above: "Loree has said previously the township’s goal is to get employees to pay a higher deductible" I may not be up on my terminology, but as I understand the English language, if someone is going to have to pay a higher deductible, they're already paying a deductible. Thus the use of the comparative adjective.

Let's look at the story's lead. Is it an unfair labor practice for the trustees to be threatening to pull the levy? It's obvious that the move is a threat, brought about because they want to keep an unnecessary 'middleman' in the picture. His commission is an unnecessary expense the trustees don't seem to mind paying. What makes this move, and the public presentation of it, beyond doubt an ULP, is the fact that unions are still negotiating at this time. From their standpoint, the township is taking their negotiating tactics to the front page of the Vindicator. How is that anything but an ULP? It's threats and bullying.

Since you're talking to everyone who will go on record, I look forward to reading about what the committee has to say.

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8NoBS(2757 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Gee, apollo, you must have a dog in this fight. Oh, that's right - you applied for the IT job Boardman gave to someone else, and 10 years later you still resent it.

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9apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

A zero deductible is a valid number. Getting them to pay a higher deductible than zero is a valid terminology.

The inmates are running the asylum.

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10apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

NoBS is a one trick pony. They point to the IT position that I'd never have taken had they advertised it correctly instead of having the police chief present an ad from his Florida days. Then they hired a neophyte with nearly zero experience and told the community she was a 15 year IT expert.

The inmates are indeed running the asylum.

Kind of like hiring a former cop without zoning experience for a zoning opening and without advertising it in the community. Political payback for a job well done.

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11apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Ask NoBS why the township refused to provide me their internet usage reports. My guess is because the firemen like him use it all the time to bash citizens like me who expose their little frauds. Isn't that special, I'm (all taxpayers) are paying for the township employees to have internet access and bash the people who pay their salaries.

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12Doctore(52 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Is that the same CALEA that your beloved atate audit commended the Township for attaining? Oops, an inconvenient part of the audit. This would be why I support these guys 100%, because I looked in to the facts, and not your spin. Again, they do a job many of us looked at years ago and said, not for that pay! Things are tough for us in the private sector, but when they improve, nobody will be all over the ANONYMOUS internet boards demanding that we give these guys raises I assume.

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13apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Isn't it funny how new posters always crop up when the topic is Boardman township? Most are just employees who create a new account.

So the Audit made mention of CALEA. All it said was congratulations. Didn't say anything about being worth the cost. Where is that $200,000 now??? All to save $100. Actually, I think it was less than $100.

How's the substation working out for you? Where is that money now? Down the proverbial drain like so many of the dollars sent to them.

Why no ad for the Kotheimer zoning position?

Please tell me what "spin" I have done? Since I get my information directly from the township are you saying they spin stuff?

If they were making the money that the County Sheriffs deputies are making, I'd be saying they were underpaid. The fact is they aren't and the audit says they are making 20% more than they should be making.

Is $141,000 for the police chief sensible? Even the other cops said $100,000 was too much for Berarducci.

How about Hawkins and Riddle making over $100,000?

With median household income in Boardman at less than $60,000, those salaries, health benefits, pensions, and perks are simply criminal.

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14apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

What facts did you look into that is my spin.

I'll be waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

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15apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I was just talking to a Boardman businessman. He and his wife were absolutely stunned that Boardman employees have zero deductibles.

He and his wife pay $1200 per month for their health care and their deductible is $5000 each.

Someone explain the difference between copay and deductible to them.

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16apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

How about these scam(s).

They don't even advertise the zoning position that former cop Kotheimer gets.

The other zoning position was advertised and they got 11 resumes. Guess how many interviews? ONE, the person they hired. Sound a little fixed? I wonder how the other 10 people feel that they weren't even interviewed and it isn't like the actual hire was heads and shoulders above the others, far from it.


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17NoBS(2757 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

What is this - the all-apollo column?

I obviously struck a nerve.

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18apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

You striking a nerve? That would be a first.

Isn't it grand how quiet it gets here when facts about how the trustees and their minions treat the taxpayers and the township as their own personal piggy bank and hiring scams.

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19apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

What's funny is the township employees think I'm mad at the IT thingy. If the township had advertised it properly, I'd never have even applied. And I certainly would have never accepted the salary that they offered the 15 year veteran of $40,000. 15 year vets certainly aren't looking to make $40,000 as IT coordinator. Newbies, that's a good wage.

Seeing that process certainly opened my eyes to the corruption and incompetence that occurs on Market Street. Which continues to this day with the zoning hires.

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20seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Let me pile-on and reiterate the fact that I have been saying for months that the township is corrupt and they have mismanaged and misappropriated funds for years, that they have allowed the unions to jam them at every negotiation, and now it is all coming back to bite them in the a--. The sad thing is that the township employees have no interest in conceeding and taking hits like the private sector. All the previous levies have been mis spent but no one really asked where it all went because they kept covering their a--ses. Now the sheets have been jerked back and it's all exposed. Of course there is corruption in Boardman township, is anyone suprised? If you didn't grow up here and you aren't second or third generation then you aren't in the cliques of three colored hair overweight moms yukking it up at the athletic events. Or, as pointed out, not "qualified" to even get an interview for a township position because you don't know somebody. This has been coming for years but no one wanted to look or know because the fallout from all this is going to be histerical and deep reaching. Stay tuned, same Bat channel...

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21NoBS(2757 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Did I strike a nerve with apollo? Since my post pointing out his resentment of Boardman employees, of the 8 posts between that and my observing that I struck a nerve, 7 of them were from him, and most of them ranting about me or Boardman or both.

I pointed out that I obviously struck a nerve, and the next 2 posts are more apollo, and more rants.

"Methinks thou dost protest too much."

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22Doctore(52 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Apollo, for the love of Pete, I am not a Township employee. I didn't respond, because I don't like you, and I don't even know you. Not because of some facts (cough cough) that you alledge over and over and over again.

Seminole, it's not really "piling on" when it is just you two, saying the same things in every post, under every article. I know you feel you are leading some type of revolution here, but really it is just you two sitting at your keyboards, smiling at yourselves, thinking your are gaining a following.

Meanwhile, these men and women are out working the streets; proving that they, even on a bad day, are better people than either of you two will ever be. Just calm down, the both of you, and know that you will never be envied, or regarded as heroes. It must burn you up, but you can still play dress up together and live out your hero fantasies!

Know this; There are many of us who support all of these men and women because of what they do and who they are. I will support this levy because I am truly grateful for how they have helped many people I know.

Now feel free to light up the boards, weenies.

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23seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Doctore, you must be a proctologist because you have your head up your ass. Go on ahead with with your personal love. or is it an infatuation, of the township employees. Maybe you wanted to drive a bright shiny police car and it never happened, or you wanted to bump around in a big dump truck, Just be sure you're one of the last ones standing on the deck when this outhouse goes under. And, yes, the rhetoric is consistant because it's the same tired bs day in and day out from these financial rapists you support. What wonderful men and women are working the streets? Howso? Cite come productive "working the streets" then make your claim.

It must infuriate you to see people have become disenchanted with the corruption and inept leadership of the township. Looks like the old days you so eloquently look back on are going away, replaced by a new mentality of a demand for accountability and production for your our tax dollars. No one is looking for a following, just making sure those with the inherant inability to look past their thrid generation Boardmanite faces that there is actually something wrong here and needs to be pointed out, over and over.

In your eyes I guess being a hero is getting paid for not doing your job, not being held accountable, talking on a cell phone while on the job, not being aboe to account for where previous levy money was spent...

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24Doctore(52 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Nope, not a Proctologist, but at least you can grasp the fact that I'm not a Boardman employee. However, I will take one Boardman Cop over ten of whatever it is you think you are, any day if I need help.
You sir are a nobody. That's why your voice is heard only here, on the Vindy. See, it is not infatuation; it is a knowledge of the truth. That's all, nothing more nothing less. When you wear the badge, or better yet run for office, then I will listen to you. As it stands, I suspect you have never worn the uniform of this country, or of a police officer, so you don't have a voice to disrespect any police officer. Weenie. By the way, the air is fresh here; How does it smell where your head is?

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