Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

County commissioners vote to keep their health benefits

Washington County commissioners were divided Monday morning as the issue of commissioner health benefits once again took center stage.
After completing two different studies on the surrounding areas and how county commissioners are compensated, CIA Committee Chair Mark Ferguson came to the full commission on Monday to recommend commissioners’ benefits remain the same.
Currently, commissioners are paid a monthly stipend of $375 and are offered the option of receiving health insurance through the county as well as retirement benefits.
According to a list previously obtained by the Herald & Tribune, county commissioners receiving those health benefits are: Ferguson, Doyle Cloyd, Sam Humphreys, Lee Chase, Richard Matherly, Gerald Sparks, Richard Shadden, Mark Larkey, Roger Nave, Evert Jarrett, David Shanks and Pat Wolfe.
All of the commissioners receiving the benefits voted to keep commissioner health benefits. Other commissioners voting to keep the benefits were: Greg Matherly, Pete Speropulos, Alpha Bridger, Sam Phillips, Joe Corso and Ben Bowman.
“I think this needs to go back for more study,” Commissioner Joe Sheffield said. “This is not what the taxpayers, including myself, are satisfied with.”
Sheffield was among six commissioners to vote against the status quo when it came to commissioner health benefits. He was joined by commissioners Skip Oldham, Mitch Meredith, David Tomita, Ken Lyon and Joe Grandy.
“I understand we are dealing with people that have a vested interest in this. But in a budget year like this year is going to be, I think it starts with this body here to make the necessary cuts,” Tomita said. “I’d like to see us show the taxpayers that we are committed to that.”
Tomita argued for finding a middle ground in the discussion, saying the county’s insurance plan as a whole needs to be looked at to find significant savings.
“We’re talking a savings of $130,000 with the commissioner health benefits,” Tomita said. “But there’s seven-figure savings we could get by looking at the plan as a whole.”
Meredith argued that commissioners were “not on a level playing field” because some were getting the insurance while others were not.
He said it was not fair that some commissioners could be getting health insurance for themselves and their families at a cost to the county of $1,400 a month while other commissioners were only receiving the $375 stipend each month.
“Commissioners should have to bear 100 percent of that insurance cost,” Meredith said. “If I vote yes, then I’m condoning the system we currently have in place and I don’t think it’s right.”
After much discussion, the resolution that there be no change in commissioner compensation, including no change in insurance benefits and pay, passed by a vote of 18-6.