Health Insurance, benefits, elected officials, Burlington, Selectmen, board of selectmen

 August 24 2015

Selectmen Discuss Halting Health Insurance Benefits for Elected Officials

By: Rich Hosford

During the Board of Selectmen meeting this week, Chairman Michael Runyan raised an agenda item he called a “hot potato issue” in town. 


The subject was the town providing health insurance for elected officials, a practice he suggested it was time to stop. 


At his request Town Treasurer Brian Curtin gave the whole board a summary of how many elected officials have insurance provided by the town through their role in office. He said out of 36 officials eligible, nine take advantage of the health insurance offer, and an additional three retirees are also on the program. 


He added that in total it cost the town $158,000 to provide the insurance policies, including the three retirees. For those in office now the total is $126,000. That’s an average of $14,000 per person though Curtin said the policy prices range from $8,000 to $18,000. 


Runyan said he isn’t looking to take away anyone’s insurance, but argued the benefit should not be offered to anyone in the future. He said the funds would be better used put towards town projects, though he did say that perhaps an increase in the stipend elected officials receive would be in order to compensate them for the long hours they put in. The stipend for elected officials has not been increased in decades. 


Selectman Joseph Morandi agreed but there was by no consensus among the board. 


Selectman Chris Hartling said the health insurance benefit is a good way to compensate people who spend a lot of time preparing for meetings and leading the town. He also argued that Burlington already has many uncontested races for important positions and removing this incentive might cause even further disinterest among possible candidates. 


Selectman Daniel Grattan said he would like to ensure members of the other boards are aware of the possible change, which is under the discretion of the selectmen, before taking a vote. 


The issue was continued to a later meeting.  

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