This one has been under the radar. One would think that, if only because to counter the appearance of impropriety, the Council would hold off on their own ... benefits until they've figured out how big the estimated budget shortfall is going to be this year.This bill has over 30 sponsors, passed first and second reading, and will likely pass 3rd reading--as most Council bills do--without debate.
The Tennessean is reporting on how each of the Metro departments would respond to a potential 5, 10 or 15% cut (the predicted reduction is as much as 23%), including which libraries would be closed. At the very least, it's in bad taste for the Council to be expanding their own benefits right now.
UPDATE: The comments on this bill are--like CMcT's--running negative to word of its impending passage. Besides those below, Rob Robinson says this about the bill in a previous post:
I personally think it is in poor taste for the council to receive these benefits at all. I would prefer that eligibility only be allowed in cases where council members do not have access to health plans at their workplaces.I'm wondering how 30-something Council Members could be co-sponsoring this bill given its potential for criticism. If Lauren's contention that the benefits bill is designed as patronage of former members like golfing lawyer Adam Dread, then this bill indeed smells like pork.
I would feel even better if an authority outside the council reviewed individual requests to participate in the city plan for members who do not have insurance.
UPDATE: One Tennessean reader submitted headline has this to say about the benefits bill:
this bill offers the same retiree medical coverage and premium to a one-term-plus-one-day Councilman as it does to a fully retired Metro employee. It also allows a Council member [who] has served any amount of one term to participate in the retiree health plan by paying 100% of the premium.
Other part-time Metro employees, such as school crossing guards, have no opportunity to join this health plan at ANY cost. They work between fifteen and twenty-five hours per week, depending on how many schools they cover; about 39 weeks a year, in all kinds of weather, yet most have no access to Metro's health plan at any price!