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County makes $5,000 death benefit official

During last week’s meeting, Washington County commissioners formalized the process for providing a $5,000 death benefit to retiring county employees.
According to the resolution, it is the policy of Washington County government to provide a $5,000 paid-in-full life insurance policy for each employee at his or her retirement who has met the full retirement criteria, which is 30 years of service or reaching the age of 60 with 10 years of service.
“This memorializes what has been the practice for the county,” said County Attorney John Rambo of the resolution.
The resolution also includes a clarification on how that practice will differ for employees who choose to continue working past the minimum retirement age.
“If an employee doesn’t retire until later in age, we (often) can’t find a policy,” Rambo said.
In those cases, Washington County will self insure for the benefit.
“This will only affect retirees over age 75,” Benefits Coordinator Michelle Shelton-Stewart said.
The resolution authorizes the benefits coordinator, purchasing director, and director of accounts and budgets to request any necessary appropriation to provide the benefit.
While none of the commissioners was opposed to continuing the benefit, a question was raised about the committee recommendation.
“The resolution says the CIA Committee recommended it, but I don’t see where this was ever addressed,” Commissioner Mitch Meredith said, referring to minutes from the committee’s June meeting.
Rambo said it had not been presented to the CIA Committee because he had intended to discuss the issue with committee members, but had to miss the meeting.
Therefore, it was not actually recommended by a committee, which is a requirement to be considered by the full commission.
Commissioner Lee Chase made a motion to suspend the rules and vote on the resolution without a committee recommendation. The motion to suspend the rules passed, with Commissioners Ethan Flynn, Ken Lyon, Joe Grandy and Meredith opposed. Commissioner Joe Sheffield passed on the vote.
Chase then made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sam Phillips, to approve the $5,000 death benefit resolution.
The motion passed unanimously with Sheffield abstaining.