Earle to cover cost for uninsured employee

City paying penalty for city clerk assistant

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Earle has agreed to repay the penalty costs for an employee who had her hours cut and was fined for not having health insurance as a result. Assistant City Clerk Lawanda Powell told the city council she had to pay $135 in fines under the Affordable Health Care Act or Obamacare for the five months she did not have insurance. “As you know, around the first of the year employees got cut,” Powell said during public comment. “When I went to file there was a sheet and it showed the months I didn’t have it. So when I filed that’s what I was penalized.” Powell had her hours cut from 20 to 40 when Mayor Carolyn Jones took office in January 2015. She was without health care insurance from Feb. to June. Jones also made other unilateral salary cuts without consulting the city council — after the budget had already been set — when she demoted street department supervisor Nemi Matthews and promoted Willie Dyson. Dyson’s wages went from $10.25 and hour to $11. Matthews’s salary was reduced from $14.81 an hour to $10. Jones also at the time reduced the pay of Gwen Steele in the police department from $11 an hour to $9 an hour. The cuts were made amid a round of budget trimming by the city council. The council had voted to cut a custodian and a part-time worker from the police department, and made the dispatcher position a 25 hour part-time position. The council voted unanimously to reimburse Powell the $135 to cover the fine.

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