Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 10, 2013

Ottenwess: Partly responsible for $200K gaffe

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series by the Mining Journal in Marquette that details the city of Ishpeming’s overpayment of health insurance premiums for 21/2 years under the watch of Jered Ottenwess, currently the city manager for Traverse City.

ISHPEMING — Former Ishpeming City Manager Jered Ottenwess and City Treasurer Anita Keto responded to a report prepared by former city manager Alan Bakalarski and released by the city in September.

It detailed the results of an investigation into the city’s overpayment of health insurance premiums for eight employees, including two who were former employees, by nearly $200,000 during parts of four fiscal years.

Ottenwess responded to a report from the city by acknowledging that he was partly responsible for the city’s overpayment of the health insurance premiums, but said it was important to look past heated emotions to find out what really happened and how to prevent it happening again.

Overpayments began in the spring of 2010 and continueduntil the end of November 2012, when they were discovered by the Ishpeming City Council during union contract negotiations.

Of the $198,805 overpaid, the city was reimbursed by the Michigan Employee Benefits Services, the city’s health insurance provider, for $42,696, which were the premiums paid for July 2012 through June.

According to the report, Keto was responsible for making sure the payments were made on time and in the correct amounts. It stated that while Keto’s previous job performance had been “excellent,” beginning in mid-2010 her work became “unsatisfactory,” characterized by a failure to complete job requirements.

Keto responded in an email by saying that the transition to a new city manager — Ottenwess — gave her an overwhelming amount of new responsibilities.

“A new city manager was hired, my workload increased and continued to increase,” she said. “I was asked to do items that previous city managers had completed.”

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