Lenz milks The System

10/21/2010 Update:

Occhipinti calls on Lenz to return $4500 to taxpayers

Following the Hoboken411 investigation into unelected councilman Michael Lenz’s health insurance scheme, challenger Tim Occhipinti is calling on Lenz to give the money back to Hoboken Taxpayers. Here is a press release from the Occhipinti For Council Campaign:

“Hoboken 4th ward city council candidate Tim Occhipinti called on Michael Lenz to return to taxpayers $4,500 in incentives he receives for opting out of the county health plan and having Hoboken taxpayers pay for his health benefits. Lenz, who, in addition to making $24,000 as a part-time city councilman, makes approximately $70,000 at his county patronage job, switched to the city health benefits plan when he was appointed to the city council.

At last week’s debate, Lenz refused to disclose how much he collected from this scheme. The facts are that Lenz saves $1,000 by not having to pay for county health benefits (the required 1.5% of his approx. $70,000 salary), and then collects an additional $3,500 from the county’s incentive program, which provides such payments to those who choose to opt out of the county health plan.

“Michael Lenz should give that money back to taxpayers,” said Occhipinti. “For a man who preaches to everyone else about ethics, this is especially shady. This cynical manipulation of public benefits is a perfect example of the real Michael Lenz. Give the money back, Mr. Lenz. Do the right thing and write a check to the taxpayers of Hoboken.”

Occhipinti, who holds a private sector job, said he will join several other current city council members and not take city health benefits. “I’ll save taxpayers $23,000 my first day on the job by not asking them to foot the bill for my health benefits,” he said. “Michael Lenz is costing taxpayers close to $115,000 in salary and benefits. On top of that, he gets to put $4,500 in his pocket. That’s not reform. That’s duplicity.”

See the original expose on Lenz’s health insurance switcheroo, and video from last week’s debate on the issue, after the jump!

10/19/2010:

Health benefits switcheroo puts $4500 into Lenz’s pocket

And takes $22,300 from city taxpayers…

The only part-time Hoboken city employees offered full-time health insurance benefits are the nine members of the City Council. Four of them refuse to take them, saving Hoboken taxpayers nearly $97,000 a year. Despite having full health coverage offered to him as a Hudson County employee, unelected councilman Michael Lenz isn’t one of them. Lenz jumped off the plan his job provided and signed on to the city system as soon as he was appointed. Why?

A Hoboken411 investigation finds a familiar motivation: cash money.

Lenz would have to pay a portion of his county benefits

Hudson County requires all non-union employees to pay 1.5% of their salary toward the cost of their health plans. To participate in the county plan Lenz would have to pay over $1000 of his approximately $70,000 annual salary. Lenz pays nothing extra to participate in the Hoboken health insurance plan.

An Open Public Records Act request revealed Hoboken taxpayers foot the $22,300 bill for Lenz’s health insurance. The subject came up at the recent candidates forum:

No answer from Lenz about stipend, Hoboken411 investigates

As you can see in the video, Lenz didn’t answer the direct question about how much money he was actually putting in his own pocket by putting city taxpayers on the hook for his benefits. Unlike Hoboken, Hudson County has a progressive incentive program offering individuals who can show proof of coverage the opportunity to drop their employer provided benefits and receive an annual stipend of $3500. County officials say the change saved a million taxpayer dollars in its first year alone.

Adding the $3500 stipend up with the $1000 co-pay Lenz saves by not opting into the county system yields a $4500 bonus on top of the $24,000 salary Lenz gets for being an unelected councilman. Challenger Tim Occhipinti says he will join four other council members who refuse the full-time benefits for part-time council work.

What do you think about Lenz’s $4500 bonus, and part-time council members getting full-time benefits? As always, your comments are welcome below.

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44 Comments on "Lenz milks The System"


Member
whineanddineinhob
5 years 3 months ago

This clown has to go !!! Whether or not he cancels his health insurance with Hoboken is not the issue now. It’s what he TRIED to get away with. Technically and legally, he didn’t do anything wrong, and this clown will be the first to let you know this. But four of the nine council members have refused to take Hoboken’s health care saving the city thousands. This clown picked up the slack and took full advantage, costing the taxpayers, and pocketing money from his county job by not taking THEIR plan. Hope the 4th ward is making a list… Read more »

Member
Had Enough
5 years 3 months ago

Thats Lenz for you. Take Take Take. The only thing he gives is street money to buy votes. Is that really legal?? You must be nuts to vote for this guy.

Member
xxrjxx
5 years 3 months ago

Not that I’m advocating for him, but you really can’t blame him for switching medical plans to take advantage of the benefits offered, can you? You may dispute whether he belongs in the position to begin with, but to blame the guy for saving on health costs doesn’t make sense to me.

Member
5 years 3 months ago

You cannot paint yourself with the broad brush as a “Reformer” and then continue to milk the system. If you take a look at the latest reforms of the pension and heath care benefits coming out of Trenton you will see the Reform push is to eliminate these double dippers like Mike Lenz, and eliminate the part time benefits for these types of jobs. [quote comment=”198924″]Not that I’m advocating for him, but you really can’t blame him for switching medical plans to take advantage of the benefits offered, can you? You may dispute whether he belongs in the position to… Read more »

Member
xyzpdq
5 years 3 months ago

I agree. Hoboken gives full-time benefits to part-time employees on the City Council? That’s like Congress giving itself the best health care plan in the world and sticking us with the check. Congress also excludes itself from many federal laws. Same kind of scam at work here. It’s no wonder taxes are so high.[quote comment=”198925″]You cannot paint yourself with the broad brush as a “Reformer” and then continue to milk the system.If you take a look at the latest reforms of the pension and heath care benefits coming out of Trenton you will see the Reform push is to eliminate… Read more »

Member
whineanddineinhob
5 years 3 months ago

YES I CAN BLAME HIM, because I’M paying for it—–and so are YOU, you fool ![quote comment=”198924″]Not that I’m advocating for him, but you really can’t blame him for switching medical plans to take advantage of the benefits offered, can you? You may dispute whether he belongs in the position to begin with, but to blame the guy for saving on health costs doesn’t make sense to me.[/quote]

Member
xxrjxx
5 years 3 months ago

First: don’t call me a fool. So much for sitting behind a computer screen and having a reasonable public discourse. Second: You missed my point, which was not speaking to the fact that Lenz is a double-dipping slimeball. My point was that he was able to avail himself of the system of benefits in place. That’s not an issue with Lenz, that’s an issue with the system. Third: Next time why don’t you take a step back and think about what you’re posting before you’re posting. As a fairly recent owner in Hoboken, I’ve been just as (if not more… Read more »

Member
hobokenj
5 years 3 months ago

I agree not a fan of Lenz but if I had two jobs and one offered free health care and one I had to pay for I would do the same. The bigger issue here is why does Hoboken offer benefits for a part tim position at all. [quote comment=”198937″]First: don’t call me a fool. So much for sitting behind a computer screen and having a reasonable public discourse. Second: You missed my point, which was not speaking to the fact that Lenz is a double-dipping slimeball. My point was that he was able to avail himself of the system… Read more »

Member
whineanddineinhob
5 years 3 months ago

Your absolutely correct, my apology. Was the heat of the issue with this creep. The point is that it IS an issue with lenz. And hopefully the voters in the 4th ward will NOT elect someone who can abuse the system, and cost taxpayers for a health plan while being compensated for not taking another. You want to stop system abusers ? Then you DON’T elect those that do.[quote comment=”198937″]First: don’t call me a fool. So much for sitting behind a computer screen and having a reasonable public discourse. Second: You missed my point, which was not speaking to the… Read more »

Member
xxrjxx
5 years 3 months ago

Apology accepted; and agreed–I get pretty pissed off about all the idiocy and issues going on in Hoboken. It’s hard to keep a cool head when you see this kind of stuff going on and people who can’t play it straight. They’ll get theirs in the end.[quote comment=”198941″]Your absolutely correct, my apology. Was the heat of the issue with this creep. The point is that it IS an issue with lenz. And hopefully the voters in the 4th ward will NOT elect someone who can abuse the system, and cost taxpayers for a health plan while being compensated for not… Read more »

Member
happygolucky
5 years 3 months ago

That’s a valid point!! Maybe the other health care service wasn’t as adequate.[quote comment=”198924″]Not that I’m advocating for him, but you really can’t blame him for switching medical plans to take advantage of the benefits offered, can you? You may dispute whether he belongs in the position to begin with, but to blame the guy for saving on health costs doesn’t make sense to me.[/quote]

Member
joey
5 years 3 months ago

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Hoboken voters let’s vote this low life weasel out he’s nothing but a scheamer that cares only about filling his pockets, he know nothing about municipal finances so don’t let him fool you. After he gets voted off an investigation should be made on his county “NO SHOW JOB” and hopefully be arrested for theft of services by stealing from taxpayers for his no show job.

Member
joey
5 years 3 months ago

Also if Mr. Lenz didn’t accept the Health Benefits plan in Hoboken it could have saved a low level job that was cut a few weeks ago with the $23K plus the taxpayers are paying for this weasel health benefits. Just shows you how selfish and greedy this man is.

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