City Council fails to override Mayor’s veto of retired firefighters health insurance

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- A move to override Mayor Tom Henry’s decision to veto a bill regarding retired Fort Wayne Firefighter’s insurance deductibles has failed.

The fire department retirees have a multi-tiered health insurance plan. Members choose between a $600, $1200, and $3400 deductible plan. Last fall, administration voted to remove the $600 deductible plan causing the costs to double.

On Dec. 13, Council approved an ordinance that would require the city to reimburse retired firefighters enrolled in the $1200 deductible plan by up to 50%, ultimately restoring the $600 deductible plan.

Mayor Henry vetoed council’s decision citing that there was not enough money in the budget.

Council members needed two-thirds of the vote to override Mayor Henry’s veto. But that veto failed with 5-4 voting in favor of the plan.

Councilman Geoff Paddock who originally was one of the 6 people who voted in favor of the ordinance at the Dec 13 meeting, changed his vote Tuesday.

“So what it really came down to for me was not really changing my position on the benefit because I do think it’s something that is deserving, but in respecting the collective bargaining process that benefit would have to be obtained during the next contract negotiation,” Paddock told NewsChannel 15 the morning after the vote.

Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters President Jeremy Bush said he doesn’t see how this respects the collective bargaining process. He said the city didn’t tell them about rising insurance rates until after negotiations were over.

“I still believe it didn’t circumvent collective bargaining,” Bush said. “The whole issue we presented to them was a result of a mistake that was made by city administration, and we tried to find viable options for that and we were continually turned away. So, our only option was to go to council.”

City Spokesman John Perlich released this statement Wednesday about the vote:

“The City of Fort Wayne Administration is encouraged by last night’s vote to sustain Mayor Henry’s veto. It’s important to respect and maintain the integrity of the collective bargaining process, which would have been undermined if the veto would have been overridden. The process provides public safety employees with an important voice in matters related to their employment. We believe collective bargaining has contributed to our ability to be a nationally-recognized, high-performing City. We’ll continue our commitment to protecting our award-winning employees and making Fort Wayne a point of destination.”