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Committee to recommend end to commissioner benefits

Four motions were required before a final decision was reached, but the Employee Compensation and Benefits Committee will recommend the elimination of health and life insurance benefits for commissioners during the November meeting of the full board.
Chairman Gary McAllister presented three courses of action during last week’s committee meeting that follow state statute requirements: eliminate health and life insurance for commissioners with three months’ notice; allow commissioners to pay for health and life insurance with one month’s notice; continue with the current program, which would allow commissioners to be added in the event of a major life change and during the annual open enrollment period.
According to the county benefits coordinator, Commissioners Sam Humphreys and Steve Light are the only two who elected to receive health insurance during fiscal 2014-15, which is a total cost to the county of approximately $35,000.
The total annual cost of life insurance is less than $500 for the following nine commissioners who elected to receive it: Forrest Boreing, Lee Chase, Danny Edens, Larry England, Humphreys, Mark Larkey, Light, Skip Oldham, David Tomita.
“I ran on the basis that I was opposed to health insurance for commissioners and I would vote against it if elected,” Commissioner Tom Krieger said during the committee’s Nov. 13 meeting. “I didn’t take it, it, and I feel the voters spoke.”
Krieger made a motion to discontinue health insurance for commissioners with three month’s notice.
Commissioner Rick Storey said benefits for commissioners was the No. 1 topic of conversation when he was in the community knocking on doors during the campaign. “But my commitment was a blend of one and two, and let them pay for it,” he said.
Light remained in favor of keeping the benefits. “They were offered when I was elected, and I think you could run it to the end of the (four-year) session.”
McAllister thought the life insurance should be included since both are considered benefits, but Krieger refused to amend his motion.
Storey seconded the motion to end commissioner health insurance with three months’ notice, but the motion failed in a voice vote.
Commissioner Katie Baker then made a motion to eliminate health and life insurance for commissioners effective June 30, 2015, which McAllister seconded. The motion failed with Storey and Krieger opposed. Light abstained from the vote.
“I’m staying out of it,” he said. “I don’t want to get in it. If we start taking away the commissioner insurance, then it will go to the employees.”
Storey questioned his reasoning. “I can’t fathom taking insurance away from the employees, and I don’t know where you’re getting that,” he said.
Krieger agreed. “I’ve not been part of any conversation that would eliminate insurance for employees, and I don’t know where that talk emanated from.”
McAllister said he also has never heard any discussion of removing employee insurance.
During the last meeting of the committee, Mayor Dan Eldridge said state law requires the county to provide health insurance to all full-time employees.
Krieger said he would offer a compromise with a motion to eliminate health insurance for commissioners effective March 31, 2015. Baker seconded the motion, which passed with all in favor except for Light, who again abstained.
McAllister followed up with a motion to eliminate life insurance for commissioners effective March 31, 2015, which was seconded by Storey. The motion passed with Baker, McAllister and Storey in favor and Krieger opposed. Light abstained.