Ohio Says Retired Akron Cops, Firefighters Got Stiffed

No need to take care of these guys... nope.
  • No need to take care of these guys... nope.

Leo Mueller retired from the Akron Fire Department in 1978 after 28 years on the job. When he signed up to brave smoke, fire, and other on-the-job hazards, he did it knowing he could have made more money working at the Firestone factory. But he took the job with the understanding Akron would providing free healthcare benefits even after he retired.

“Police and fireman weren’t that well compensated at the time,” says Mueller, now 86 and an active city councilman. “I expected the hospitalization [coverage] for myself and my family to offset the wages I was being paid as a fireman.”

But for the last 20 years, the city hasn’t been living up to its end of the bargain, says Akron attorney Larry Shenise — and the state of Ohio agrees. The cash-strapped city could be on the hook for up to $5 million in annual insurance premiums and possibly back-premiums as high as $50 million.

Last month, the state Department of Insurance ruled that Akron’s administration of health-care benefits for retired firefighters and police “constitute[s] unfair and deceptive acts under Ohio Revised Code.”

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