Touma at $http://southbuffalonews.com25,000 plus per year courtesy taxpayers can afford to ‘not sign up for the pay’

According to the Buffalo News, Council Chairman Andrew Touma said “council members receive a part-time salary of $http://southbuffalonews.com2,000, but they are on call all the time. He said in comparable cities elected officials receive $http://southbuffalonews.com5,000.

“’But we don’t sign up for the pay. Moving the city forward is why we are all here,” said Touma.”

He’s right.

But he can afford to be right since Touma makes $http://southbuffalonews.com03,500 as a school teacher/administrator, plus he gets health insurance benefits worth about $http://southbuffalonews.com7,000 at the school district.

Touma also makes $http://southbuffalonews.com2,000 as a [part time] council member and he also takes the $http://southbuffalonews.com0,000 health insurance opt out. All told, Touma hauls in $http://southbuffalonews.com25,000 plus health insurance.

He can afford not to sign up for the pay because he is one of the highest paid government employees in the city.

Touma, the third year councilman, second year council chairman, and creator of the city’s Finance Advisory Panel, appeared on the Vince Anello show last July 28, telling the former mayor how he planned to cut the city budget.

Touma touched  on the city’s fiscal woes with the chairman speaking freely as to how he would take an axe to the cost of city personnel.

Touma told Anello, “When I ran in 20http://southbuffalonews.com3 I didn’t realize the extent of the budget problems.”

Touma told Anello, “If personnel costs are 80% of your budget where do you look first” for cuts? The comment was eye opening in that Paul Dyster, and the “putty in the mayor’s hands” council majority have been marching in lock-step with the “spend like a drunken sailor mayor” as Dyster sent personnel costs through the roof by: increasing department head pay; endless stipends; doubling salaries through overtime; and, hiring political friends for new or vacated positions.

So, where will the chairman – the man who created the city’s Finance Advisory Panel and spearheaded the city’s adopting a relationship with the New York State Financial Restructuring Board for Municipalities – make his cuts?

Back then he told Anello he will “Make cuts in department budgets…reduce travel…cut equipment purchases…make cuts through attrition and retirement…initiate worker furloughs…and make modifications to employee benefits.”

When chairman Touma appeared on the Anello show on December 30, 20http://southbuffalonews.com4, he similarly blamed the city debt, as had the mayor, on personnel costs.

At that time he pointed to the health insurance “opt out” clause and employee health insurance as a key cause of the city deficit.

 

What Touma failed to tell Anello back then was that he was receiving an annual $9,700 health insurance opt out payment, in addition to his $http://southbuffalonews.com2,000 council salary.

Touma campaigned on the evils of the opt-out, and while he blamed city personnel for creating the city deficit, he’s partaking of a benefit he condemned before he was elected.

$http://southbuffalonews.com80 million in casino funds he helped Dyster to spend; millions of dollars for consultants; $3,2 million Touma recommended in borrowing for the out of control ice pavilion restoration; $500,000 to Isaiah 6http://southbuffalonews.com; $http://southbuffalonews.com50,000 for penguins; $http://southbuffalonews.com50,000 for the city mission tax problems; more than a million dollars for legal consultants; $2.2 million for trash totes; funding the SWEET program; $http://southbuffalonews.com00,000 parking study; some department heads pay rising over 50% since 2008; his health insurance opt out; and so on.

While the rank and file workers in city government have taken a beating under Dyster while the department heads, Dyster’s favored employees and friends of the mayor’s campaign, have benefited mightily…right along with the consultants and businesses that secure contracts with His Honor over and over at a cost to the taxpayers.

The friends of Dyster receive raises, stipends and endless overtime while “no soup for you, rank and file city employees!” is the management mantra.

The $50 million dollar courthouse, the $44 million dollar train station and the $http://southbuffalonews.com3 million dollar ice pavilion are just another day at the races.

Touma told Anello that the situation was becoming desperate for the city.

“We can’t afford to pay what we’re paying right now in health care,” he said. “It will be our demise. It’s a big drain on the city.”

Touma is so concerned about the cost of health care to the city that he collects nearly $200 a week to “opt out” of the city’s health insurance plan because the taxpayers already pay for his health care coverage through the Niagara Falls City School District, where he works as a teacher.

He is one of 48 city employees, elected officials and retirees – nearly all with some tie to the school district – who receive $9,700 annually and cost the city a whopping $456,000 a year for doing absolutely nothing. The “opt out” payment in the city of Niagara Falls is far and away the highest in the region.

The mayor would no doubt argue that paying a select group of City Hall insiders nearly a half a million dollars a year is a part of economic development. Surely those chosen 48 will spend the free money they receive in local shops and restaurants, thus helping the retail clerks and waitresses who are lucky enough to make ten grand a year actually working in Niagara Falls.

What is certain is that Touma’s concern about the cost of health care to the taxpayers of Niagara Falls ends exactly at the point where it begins to benefit him personally.

Touma told the Reporter that taking the opt out actually saves the city money since if he took the health insurance it would cost the city close to $http://southbuffalonews.com8,000.

Touma

Who says government doesn’t pay? Andrew Touma doesn’t do half bad….

“When taking the opt out I am saving the city 50 percent. I am working extremely hard (as a council member). I think you have to look at the entire health benefit.,” Touma said.


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