New Albany News

New Albany City Council

Briscoe retires but hopes to regain elected seat

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New Albany City Councilwoman Colleen Briscoe has opted to retire from her city post to collect state benefits, but she said she hopes to regain the seat soon.

City Council on March 5 recognized her retirement and temporarily appointed Glyde Marsh to replace her as liaison to the planning commission.

Briscoe said she retired to obtain her benefits through the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, citing recent changes in the state's benefits system.

"The benefits aren't large, but it makes sense at this point because of changes (in OPERS)," she said.

The state legislature in September approved Senate Bill 343, which includes changes in the OPERS pension and health-care plans.

It increases the retirement age and changes years of service required to receive a pension.

The pension plan was expected to take effect Jan. 7, 2013, but the state legislature is considering an extension of the timeline in House Bill 67, which the Senate is considering.

"With a lot of the changes made to OPERS that are going into effect, some people have changed the time they have to be employed or changed their status," said Kent Scarrett, spokesman for the Ohio Municipal League. "A lot of people are trying to act before the changes are imposed."

Briscoe, an attorney and partner in Briscoe and Webber of Columbus, said she would continue to practice law and is interested in serving on City Council again.

She said she would apply to be appointed to the seat she just vacated.

The term for the seat expires at the end of 2013. Even if Briscoe is not appointed to serve the remainder of the term, she said she will run for the seat in the November election.

City attorney Mitch Banchefsky said the city charter requires City Council to fill the position within 60 days. If City Council fails to fill the seat within that timeline, Mayor Nancy Ferguson will make the appointment.

Scarrett said if Briscoe is reappointed she could begin to contribute to OPERS again.

"When she goes back into that position, she would be back in the OPERS system and would be treated as any other qualified employee," Scarrett said.

The practice often is referred to as "double-dipping," Scarrett said.

Briscoe's retirement was effective March 1, Ferguson said.

Briscoe served as mayor of New Albany from 1996 to 2004 and was appointed to a City Council seat in 2004. She was elected to the seat in 2005 and again in 2009

In other business March 5, City Council:

* Heard first reading of an ordinance to seal juvenile records "upon the successful completion of a juvenile diversion program."

According to the city's legislative report, mayor's court does not have jurisdiction to hear juvenile cases but the court can offer juvenile diversion programs.

According to the report, "instead of actually filing formal charges, eligible juveniles are offered the opportunity to enter into the diversion program. In other words, juveniles are given the opportunity to stay out of the 'system.' Eligibility is based upon several criteria such as being a first offender, not involving a crime of violence, and approval by the victim (where applicable), the police department, prosecutor and probation officer."

Banchefsky said currently, parents can petition the court to seal a juvenile's records. The ordinance would allow the court to seal the records -- if the juvenile successfully completes the diversion program -- without parents petitioning for it.

* Recognized New Albany High School senior Daniel Lehman, who earned the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout rank for building signs for the New Albany Presbyterian Church building on Johnstown Road.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve. It requires a Boy Scout to earn 21 merit badges and organize, lead, manage and complete an extensive service project before he turns 18.

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