Mayor, firefighters clash over retirement insurance

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A group of firefighters are in the middle of a disagreement with Mayor Tom Henry. This comes after Henry vetoed a bill they presented regarding insurance deductibles.

Last week city council passed an ordinance regarding insurance deductibles for retired firefighters. The concern was about what would take effect next year.

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“It was not just an increase in cost, it was actually a change in the benefits by eliminating a plan,” Councilman Paul Ensley said.

Jeremy Bush, the president of the firefighter union said this could potentially double costs and thinks those changes weren’t done the right way.

READ | Mayor’s veto message

“The unfortunate reality in this situation is though that we’re supposed to be included in the meetings that result in a change to our insurance program. That didn’t take place, the city of Fort Wayne wasn’t reasonable in meeting with us so it lead to council involvement,” he said.

The ordinance passed in city council with a six to three vote. But Mayor Tom Henry vetoed it, something only done four times in the last nine years.

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In his statement explaining why he said ‘the ordinance that was brought forward and approved by City Council undermines the very nature of the bargaining process, which provides public safety employees with an important voice in matters related to their employment. It’s vital to respect and maintain the integrity of the process…My administration is committed to being fiscally responsible to meet the needs of residents and businesses.’

READ | Union’s reponse to Retiree Insurance Amendment Proposal

Councilman Paul Ensley voted in favor of the ordinance and says the veto and that response are surprising.

“That certainly is a red herring. I mean this was brought to our attention by the firefighters themselves who certainly wouldn’t act against their own interest in collective bargaining,” he said.

This topic will likely come up at city council’s meeting next month.