- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

LEESVILLE, La. (AP) - A state district judge in Leesville judge will consider whether two City Council members enrolled illegally in the health insurance plan for city employees.

The city wants William “Mike” Elliott and Milton “Danny” Dowd to pay back more than $120,000.

Judge H. Ward Fontenot asked both sides on Thursday to give him briefs within 15 days. He says he will consider the matter after reviewing the documents, the American Press (http://bit.ly/KmyWaK) reported.

The city argued that public officials are not full-time city employees and therefore, under the city charter, are not eligible for the insurance.

Former City Administrator DeLain Prewitt testified that both councilmen asked her in 2003 whether they could join the program. She said she believed they were eligible, and enrolled them.

City Attorney Joseph Bailey asked if she had the power to determine an individual’s eligibility.

“I don’t know if I did or didn’t,” she said. “There was nothing that said I didn’t have the authority.”

Dowd was enrolled in the employee self-insurance plan from 2003 to December 2010, when he voluntarily withdrew. Leesville Mayor Robert Rose testified that Elliott was enrolled in the plan from 2003 to May 2011, when the city cut off his health insurance after advising him to back out of the plan.

Defense attorney Howard Gist said their enrollment was legal because a health insurance line item had been included in each budget since the council members opted in. The city’s previous auditor had no problem; it was only after Rose took office and brought in a new auditor that anyone took issue with the two, Gist said.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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