Warwick mayor and staff members owe medical health insurance premium payments


WARWICK, R.I. — Warwick Mayor Frank J. Picozzi, his chief of staff, finance director, and press secretary have gone nearly a yr and a half without having their medical insurance premiums deducted from their weekly paychecks, his press secretary said Monday.

Picozzi, who took office in January 2021, took to Facebook on Thursday, saying, “This morning it was delivered to my attention that some members of my staff and department directors who got here on board at first of my term haven’t had our co-pays for our medical coverage deducted from our weekly paychecks.”

The deductions, that are made as a part of cost sharing for worker medical health insurance, must have began in February 2021, he said.

“Plainly it was missed since the person answerable for initiating it was out as a result of COVID,” Picozzi wrote. “I never noticed it personally because my pay is deposited electronically, and I never have a look at what’s deducted.”

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Picozzi said the deductions will begin immediately under repayment plans for him and the opposite employees. “I’m putting this out publicly because I think in full disclosure and transparency,” he wrote.

On Monday, the mayor’s press secretary, Elizabeth Tufts, provided details in response to a Globe inquiry.

She said Picozzi, city finance director of finance Peder A. Schaefer, and chief of staff Susan Nahabedian each owe $5,000 under family medical health insurance plans, and Tufts said she owes $2,000 under a person health plan. She said all of them began working for town on the identical day.

The town treasurer, Lynne Prodger, brought the matter to Picozzi’s attention, Tufts said. The town shouldn’t be releasing the name of the person, referenced in Picozzi’s Facebook post, who was out with COVID on the time, she said.

All 4 employees have signed a repayment plan, agreeing that double the traditional premium will likely be deducted until the amounts owed are paid off, Tufts said. If their employment ends first, the total amount will develop into due, she said.

“A check is being done on all other employees to make sure this error hasn’t happened with other employees,” Tufts said. The town’s information technology department “is making a higher system,” she said.

“The mayor is not going to be commenting beyond this,” Tufts said.

Picozzi received some praise for his announcement on Facebook.

“Thanks to your honesty,” Micky Kotkofski wrote. “Nobody would have known…except God. Good for you!”

“It’s good to be open about it,” Christopher Cioe wrote. “I believe it raises valid questions on reconciling and auditing citywide. Humans make mistakes, it’s unavoidable, but ideally there’s redundancies to catch it like this instance. Ideally for each city department. This manner no person can claim it’s fraud or misconstrue it to be the rest apart from a mistake.”

But Picozzi’s post also drew some skepticism and criticism.

“I find it concerning that you simply, your staff and directors have such little attention to detail,” Mary-Ann McCurry wrote. “Should you don’t realize such a mistake in your personal paycheck, how is there any attention to detail in management of town? You had no selection but to be forth coming. In any case, you needed to attempt to get in front of it.”

Rob Cote, a Warwick resident who often speaks at City Council meetings, questioned why Picozzi and the others are getting 16 months to pay the a reimbursement after receiving 16 months of “gold plated” medical health insurance. “If I used to be $5,000 behind on my sewer bill, would town put me on a payment plan?” he asked. “No, they’d put my house up for tax sale, and I’d must pay the total amount with interest and penalties, however the mayor gets special treatment.”

Cote also questioned why Picozzi, who receives a $100,000 salary, and the others can’t pay back the total amount abruptly. “Are these people so fiscally dysfunctional that they don’t have 5 grand to make town whole?” he said. “If he’s making $100,000 and doesn’t have $5,000, this guy doesn’t should be the mayor of the Monopoly game, for God’s sake.”

Edward Fitzpatrick will be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.


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