Chesterton Tribune



Jim Ton urges NWI legislators to take action now on DCS crisis

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Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, is urging residents to contact their state legislators and urge them--now and forcefully--to take meaningful action at the Department of Child Services (DCS), whose director resigned last month after blasting Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration for service cuts at agency, at the same time that the opioid crisis has been putting increasing numbers of children in jeopardy.

“The DCS crisis is the result of the opioid crisis,” Ton said at Monday’s meeting. “Many children are being neglected and abused. Caseloads are tremendous. Children are paying the price of the opioid crisis because families are falling apart. We have children in danger, in extreme danger.”

Ton’s warning comes less than a week after the two most powerful Republicans in the General Assembly said they have no plans to take action to address the DCS crisis. House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate leader David Long told the Associated Press that they prefer a study group convened by Gov. Holcomb to finish its review of DCS first. That probably won’t be done, however, until after the legislative session is over, the AP reported.

Ton called on residents to contact their legislators and tell them to make DCS a priority in their plans for the session.

Health Insurance

In other business, members agreed by consensus to continue the following policies:

* A $1,000 annual disbursement to each municipal employee’s health savings account, plus an additional match of up to $500 per employee for deposit into his or her HSA.

* An earn-back of up to $550 per employee on his or her annual health insurance premiums, by making use of the Wellness Program’s portal and by attending all or some of that program’s five Lunch & Learns scheduled for the year.

Members also agreed to switch dental insurance carriers to Lincoln Financial, which is offering a higher annual maximum coverage of $250; and--for out-of-network dentists-- “usual and customary” coverage in place of “maximum allowable coverage,” under which the amount paid by municipal employees will be reflective of the prevailing rates charged by local dentists.

Local 4600 Contract

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to renew the town’s contract with International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1400, representing the firefighters of the Town of Chesterton.

Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson said that the renewed agreement is substantially identical to the old one, with this exception: the contract was revised to reflect more closely the Personnel Policy Handbook’s language on vacation.

Among other things, the agreement provides for the following: Local 4600 members may meet at the fire station, may post notices on a bulletin board at the station, may hold elections at the station, and shall have their dues deducted from their paycheck and remitted by the town to IAFF.

The agreement also binds both labor and management to I.C. 36-8-22-15, which prohibits public safety employees from engaging in work stoppages, strikes, and walkouts.


Posted 1/10/2018





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