Wednesday, November 11, 2009

State reverses decision to grant unemployment benefits to former Ada Township clerk

unemployment insurance benefits

ADA TOWNSHIP -- The state has reversed a decision to grant unemployment benefits to a former township clerk voted out of office.

Deborah Ensing Millhuff, a full-time clerk since 1997, lost her bid for re-election last year to Susan Burton.

Millhuff was denied unemployment benefits in December. She appealed that decision and on Oct. 13 was granted benefits of $362 a week for up to 26 weeks by the state Unemployment Insurance Commission.

But in a letter dated Nov. 5, the state cited "a clarification" of section 43 of the Employment Security Act, which states that the term "employment" does not apply to elected officials.

Millhuff could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment.

Supervisor George Haga said the township is pleased with the state's latest decision.

Unlike private employers, which pay into a broad unemployment insurance fund that is tapped when employees lose their jobs, government agencies must fully reimburse the state for unemployment and the federal government when benefits are extended.

An attorney advising the township had said that if the state's ruling held, it could set a precedent for other local governments.

In its original determination letter on Oct. 13, the state held that 65 percent of Millhuff's job involved "nonstatutory duties" that it ruled should be applied toward unemployment benefits. Millhuff said those duties included writing the township newsletter, serving as chairwoman of the parks committee and personnel oversight.