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City Councilman files claim against city seeking compensation he feels entitled to

Posted: November 7, 2013 6:00 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2013 6:00 p.m.

City Councilman TimBen Boydston has filed a claim against the city of Santa Clarita alleging that its tiered health benefit system was improperly adopted and has caused him to lose out on more than $9,000 in compensation he feels he is entitled to.

The tiered system, which took effect in 2011, differentiates the amount of cash-in-lieu benefits an employee or council member can receive if he or she elects not to enroll in a health insurance plan.

The city’s health benefits are the same for both council members and employees and provide $1,016.58 a month to go toward purchasing insurance.

Employees hired or council members elected before Jan. 1, 2011, have the option to receive the total amount of those benefits as taxable cash, while those who join the city after that date, such as Boydston, can receive a maximum of $214.62 a month.

“It has to do with the unequal benefits between me and the other council people,” Boydston said Thursday about the claim. “It’s not about the money; it’s just a fairness issue.”

In his claim, which was received by the Santa Clarita City Clerk’s office on Oct. 21, Boydston wrote that in the year he has served on the council, he has been shortchanged by $9,623.52 as a result of the tiered system.

“The City Attorney’s instruction to me that I am not to speak about my compensation to him or any member of the city staff leaves me no recourse but to file an official claim against the city,” Boydston wrote in his claim.

Council members originally voted to approve changes to the city’s health benefits at a meeting in December 2010.

But, due to an omission on the part of city staff, the council did not vote on changes in cash-in-lieu benefits at that time.

During meetings in October and November 2012, council members discussed and reaffirmed the tiered health benefit system for council members and city employees.

“The council does not have the latitude to institute changes to council compensation almost two years later, having never done so in public,” Boydston wrote in his claim.

Boydston said he anticipates the claim will be discussed in closed session ahead of an upcoming City Council meeting.

City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said Thursday it is the policy of the city not to comment on items that will be discussed in closed session.
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