By KayLynn Roberts-McMurray 

The Ely Times

In the Ely City Council meeting last week, the Council approved by a unanimous vote to give Judge Mike Coster insurance benefits.

The job announcement that had originally ran for the Municipal Court Judge position did have a generic caveat in the announcement that said “plus benefits” not making it clear as to exactly what benefits Judge Coster would be able to receive.

An attempt to contact former Judge Mike Kalleres was unsuccessful, but it was noted that Kalleres had Medicare during his term and he did not require insurance benefits through the city.

Several other candidates who interviewed for the position were also contacted but said they hadn’t really thought about whether the position had insurance or not.

City Attorney Chuck Odgers read to the council the section in the policy and procedure manual that outlined insurance benefits for employees, part time employees and department heads.

Councilman Steve Setterstrom said “I know that when we talked about it we all assumed that he’d qualify for insurance, he even signed the paperwork for the insurance, so he assumed that it was including insurance.”

In the City of Ely’s Policy and Procedure handbook, it states that the council has the authority to give insurance benefits to this position irrespective of whether the individual was a department head or not.

In addition, half-time employees participate in the public retirement system per NRS 286.293(a). Judge Coster is currently the only part-time employee. And, to the city’s knowledge to determine whether insurance benefits were ever offered or paid to the prior municipal court judges, their records are limited.

The big question is, if this policy and procedure already existed in the manual why did the item have to go on the agenda? How come they didn’t sign him up in the beginning when he was completing his new hire paperwork? When it came time to vote on the subject, Councilman Sam Hanson gave the motion, and Setterstrom said “I am going to second that and I’m going to make it clear that Mike and I are friends, but it doesn’t prevent me from voting on this issue.”