Village of Oakley reaches deal with new insurance provider
SAGINAW COUNTY (WJRT) -
(07/01/14) - We have learned from the president of the village of Oakley that a deal has been reached with a new insurance provider.
As of midnight Monday night, the Michigan Municipal League dropped their insurance coverage.
They say it's due to expenses tied to several lawsuits against the village and a lack of cooperation from the police department.
That means all day Tuesday, the village was self-insured, putting the burden of any future legal trouble on the back of taxpayers. This was a long, complicated issue for this little village, but the reason they didn't have insurance goes back to several lawsuits filed against the village and a 'lack of cooperation' from the police department - according to the Michigan Municipal League.
We spoke with the League on the phone, Tuesday afternoon. They previously insured the village and told them in January that they'd lose coverage on July 1. Again, citing several lawsuits and lack of cooperation. "We had tried to reach the police department and talk with the chief on these issues to no avail," said Matt Bach, Michigan Municipal League.
The police department has been a big part of the lawsuits, mostly filed by the Bitterman family, who owns the family tavern.
Oakley has a village police reserve with an estimated 100 officers. That doesn't sit well with many. Oakley trustee, Francis Koski, and several homeowners tried to get the board to cut the police department, their biggest source of liability, to save their insurance.
"If we didn't include the police department, we'd be insured today," Koski said earlier Tuesday.
Koski thinks self-insurance is just like having no insurance - and can't understand why the police department is still operational.
"How can you be arrogant enough to go to work without insurance? That's the term I'm going to use. We have a number of lawsuits the police are involved in," Koski said.
We spoke with the village president pro-tem - she did not want to go on the record or on camera. We could not reach the police chief.
There is a village meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. next Tuesday.