I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.
While being an elected person, an alderman in this case, you have to constantly remind yourself “Who do you work for” - The taxpayers, the residents, and NOT the City. I don’t work for the Mayor, the DPW or any of the City workers.
You also have to remind yourself to take out personal feelings and make the decisions not based on them, but what is best for the taxpayers and residents as a whole. You are not there to make friends, if it happens great, but your number one duty is to the taxpayers and residents.
The longer you are an elected official, the easier, and tempting it is to be friendly, develop friendships with City personnel and start to base your decisions on personal feelings instead of “What is best for the taxpayers and residents as a whole!”
You also have to be adult and make the hard decisions not just the easy ones or take the easy way out!
I am reminded by one of the things that former Alderman/Mayor Ryan McCue said that I truly did like and believe, “We can do battle here, be at odds, disagree and walk out the door and still be friendly to each other!” He said that as an Alderman and as Mayor and it is one of the things I respected and learned from him.
At the last Finance Committee meeting one of the topics addressed the changes the Federal governmental body called the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) made to the amount of pretax money for health insurance plans (FSA) Flexible Spending Deductible Reimbursement.
What the Federal IRS did was, they said the maximum that can be reimbursed is $500 regardless of plan type (Family or Single).
Let me stress, the maximum allowed by the IRS is $500 with the rule change.
The City of Cudahy had setup that Family Plans get up to $1000 and Single Plans get $500 in reimbursement.
What the City offered as options was:
1. We can give the Family Plans a $500 stipend to bring them up to the $1000
2. We can do what the Federal IRS says is the maximum pretax money for health insurance plans Flexible Spending Deductible Reimbursement which is $500
Now the recommendation was that we choose option 1 and make these people whole, make these people happy, these people were counting on the $1000 - they were budgeting on it, it isn’t fair what the Federal IRS did. This would make morale low if we didn’t! With the $500 stipend, these employees will now have to pay taxes on that $500.
There was silence from the committee from some good time, when I spoke and said I am willing to make the hard decision and stated that we follow the Federal IRS rule change and set the $500 maximum pretax reimbursement for all plans.
This caused an uproar. It was now, Why do the single plans not feel the sting; this is not fair that the single plans don’t get punished.
A city person in attendance in the audience stood up and said, “When is this going to stop, the attack on public sector workers”
First, keep in mind it is the Federal IRS making this change, not anyone else. How was it fair the single plans not to get a stipend? We cannot control where that $500 stipend is used or even ask.
Now you may ask yourself, how many families have the Family plan (100) and how many single plans (19). You may also ask, was this money budgeted for and the answer was yes.
So in following the Federal IRS rules it would save the taxpayers of Cudahy $50,000, just by following the IRS rules.
Why should the Cudahy taxpayers pick up the tab for an IRS rule change? Do we do that when the IRS reduces mileage? Who makes the Cudahy Taxpayers Whole?
My motion of option 2 was seconded and the unanimously voted upon.
This subject was next brought up at the Common Council where we were told we didn’t need to follow the recommendation of the earlier committee. (Hinting we were wrong earlier)
And there was again that we need to make these people whole. Making people whole?
Make whole is a term used in reference to compensating a party for a loss sustained. The precise definition varies, according to contract terms and local laws. It may include either actual economic losses or to actual economic and non-economic losses, and not necessarily to the settlement value of the case. In the context of a loan, it typically refers to the amount left owed to the lender under the terms of the loan.
Who was going to make the Cudahy Taxpayer whole? I guess that doesn’t matter.
So again, the Cudahy Taxpayers should make up the difference of a Federal IRS rule change in the form of a $500 Stipend. I still don’t see why!
I did say during the CC meeting that I would be open to reducing the Single plan to $250 and the Family Plan on the maximum allowed by the IRS ($500 Federal IRS rule change).
So during the Common Council meeting, one of the alderpersons said I challenge the rest of my fellow elected aldermen to keep things the same (BTW – keeping it the same was NOT and is NOT an option in accordance to IRS rules change which is why the Mayor did tell the alderman that what he means is with the $500 stipend) as they were and give them the $500 Stipend. If we don’t this will take food off their table, it isn’t fair and here is a way we can make it fair. Morale would be low [only thing not said it there will be a max exodus of city people over this]
Remember I started this about who alderpersons work for? The taxpayers and residents! Not the City or its Workers!
His motion was seconded and we voted. Only I voted NO!
BTW – in a 2 to 2 tie (we were missing 1 alderperson) the Mayor could NOT vote as this direct affects him and would have been a conflict of interest.
Also note that across the board 2% raises were given in the 2014 budget. I asked that going forward we do merit raises (I am not against raises – those that deserve them should get them and dead weight – well it needs to be gotten rid of) and I will tell you I got every excuse in the book not to do them (notice if some sound familiar)
It will lower morale!
People will leave if they don’t get one.
Merit raises aren’t fair.
It is too much work.
People are counting on the raise and if we do merit raises they may not get one!
Yep, here again I was the lone vote NO for the 2% across the board raises via the 2014 budget which raised our taxes.
I have respect for many of the City people and this is not personal and never should be and the bottom line was the Federal IRS made the rule change, not the City, County, or State.
In the end, that which is best for the Taxpayers and Residents and has to be foremost on our minds, that's what I was elected to do!