Laurelville doesn't pay worker's compensation on volunteer officers

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LAURELVILLE — It appears all village employees in Laurelville are covered by the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation with the exception of auxiliary police officers.

The issue came to light earlier this week when Laurelville Village Clerk/Treasurer Darcy Tisdale updated council members about a bill they received from the BWC.

The bill, which was owed for not accurately paying on village employees and volunteers, was reduced to $965 from $2,300 last month after Tisdale disputed the charges.

Tisdale explained that the 15 volunteers working for the Laurelville Fire Department are covered under one BWC plan, while village council members, street maintenance workers, waste water treatment plant workers, fire chief, water department worker, mayor’s court clerk and paid officers at the Laurelville Police Department are covered under a different BWC plan.

When Laurelville Mayor Jason Hettinger questioned Tisdale about the auxiliary officers who don’t get paid for volunteering their time, Tisdale replied she wasn’t aware the village had auxiliary police officers.

“I didn’t ask about them because I didn’t even know we had auxiliaries, so I don’t know,” she said, adding that she would look into the matter and contact BWC again.

“For auxiliaries out working, and if they get hurt, effectively there is no workers comp then?” inquired Laurelville Police Chief Mike Berkemeier.

“Yes,” replied councilman Bobby Bowers.

“It should be no different than the volunteer firefighters,” Dountz said. “They should be covered. I think we just missed it.”

“The thing that comes to mind is the Fireman’s Festival, Halloween, or something like that with every auxiliary we have working,” Berkemeier added, questioning their safety.

In October, council reversed a decision it made in January 2012 to change the status of its police officers to independent contractors in an effort to save money by not paying worker’s compensation.

The village argued at the time that as 1099 contractual employees, the village was no longer responsible for contributing to officer pensions or BWC.

“The village is still active with the BWC,” said BWC Public Information Officer Melissa Vince at the time. “Regardless of whether the village is issuing 1099s, based on the definition of an employee, we would expect them to continue to report the police wages which is used to determine the workers comp rates.”

When the village failed to pay the appropriate amount for its contractual employees, they received a bill for $2,300. While the bill has since been reduced to $965, it’s unclear what charges, if any, will be added with the addition of auxiliary officers.