Monday, December 06, 2010

San Angelo City Council Kept in Dark on ERRP?

Retired Police Chief Russell Smith brought up the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program during public comment on health insurance increases for employees and early retirees.  After the November 16 meeting, Smith followed up with City Council members, two of whom said they never heard of the program.  How could that be, given San Angelo's ERRP timeline?

City representatives signed the ERRP application on July 7, 2010 

HHS approved San Angelo in the first round of announcements, August 31, 2010 (which I reported on)

Standard Times ran a blurb on ERRP approval, September 19

No city council agendas/minutes mention "Early Retiree" or "ERRP" from July 6 to December 7, 2010 (12 regular meeting opportunities)
I began communicating with the City on this issue on August 31.  A follow up phone call in October muddied the water.  Then I saw Russell Smith lament draconian health insurance increases for early retirees, with his ERRP "pin drop" moment.

That agenda item deserved a thorough and clear ERRP explanation by City representatives.  Instead, staff stammered, hemmed and hawed.

Seeking answers, I formally requested copies of the Holmes-Murphy report and the methodology for applying ERRP savings, required in section E of the federal application. 

Nov. 17--requested copy of report
Nov. 29--City sends ERRP application, minus section E1 which states how funds will be used
Nov. 29 (evening)--requested language submitted in E1
Dec. 3--followed up with City representatives, HR busy--maybe Monday
Dec. 6 (evening)--no E1

Note:  the federal ERRP application is electronic, in PDF form, capable of being moved rapidly via the internet. 
The practical outcome, should it stand, means the City will bank 17 months of ERRP funding, before considering what to do with federal funding.  Who made the decision to set aside federal funds for a rainy day, while hail beats early retirees?  When will Section E1 arrive?  Will it be read in Council Chambers tomorrow morning?

"New" money is available to help early retirees.  I hope an honest conversation about the program occurs in the morning.  It should make interesting television.

Update:  No E1 arrived before the City Council meeting.  It was not read to Council members.  ERRP remained a virtual secret until raised by the public.  The City stuck to their "unsure source of funding" line, despite the program accepting claim submissions the end of October.    City Council members had three weeks since Russell Smith raised ERRP to ask questions.  None did.  They claimed ignorance.  As for the missing E1, staff blamed it on a quirky electronic application.  Odd, HHS required a hard copy be mailed in.  Did the feds want an incomplete hard copy?  There's either one layer of government incompetence or we're facing a fractal.  My E1 request remains unfulfilled.  It's a sad state for knowledgeable citizens, who expect all cards on the table when dealing with difficult issues.

No comments: