May 31, 2011

Ending Lifetime Heatlh Care For Politicians

Serving as a town board member or some other local official is often a thankless job.  You spend lots of time trying to address quality of life issues for residents and more often than not serve as the punching bag for their frustrations.  With this in mind, I have no problem that local officials receive some compensation for their public service.  But when their service ends, so should their compensation.

The Buffalo News article on Tim Demler battling with the Wheatfield Town Board really struck a nerve with me and not because Demler is being his usual jackass self.  The article stated the town pays 50 percent of the health insurance premium for those who served at least 10 years in office, 75 percent for those who served 15 years, and 100 percent for those who served 20 years or more.  Lifetime health care for part-time local elected officials?  Really?

The Niagara County  Legislature eliminated lifetime health care years ago because they recognized it simply an unfair burden to place on taxpayers.  I had no idea that towns were offering this same kind of outrageous perk.  Local tea party activists (and the rest of us too) should be focused on ending things like this that are directly tied to our high property taxes.  I have no idea how many other towns and cities in Niagara County provide this but it's a practice that should end immediately.


The Avenger said...

All these towns crying about mandates and costs and this crap is still going on? I'd love to know how many other towns are still doing this as they raise our taxes.

Somervisor said...


As the Supervisor of the Town of Somerset I can only speak on behalf of our Town. The Town Board of Somerset has unanimously ended all health insurance for part time Elected Officials as of January 2012. We are working on having Town insurance available at full cost to the part-time employee/Elected Official. Currently, all Elected Officials receive fully paid health insurance.

To your point, two ex-board members, who served 20 years in office, receive health insurance for life paid for by the taxpayers of Somerset. Although the “health insurance for life” policy is no longer in effect, a discussion was brought up by the Board recently signifying the possibility of making the two Elected Officials who have “retired” from the system responsible for paying a percentage of their health insurance premium. One of the affected ex-board member stood and angrily stated that “the Town Board is not acting in honor since we were not following through with our commitments”. What? Really? We never committed to shackling the residents of Somerset with lifetime insurance costs for part time officials. To the contrary, the two ex-board members were the ones who voted themselves this generous benefit.

Most Elected Officials are not looking out for their own good, but for the good of their constituents. For most of us holding political office at the town level, our jobs are really a willful act of sacrificial service to the community.

After the 1st of the year I will have to purchasing my own insurance through the Town, leaving me with a salary of approximately $2,000 per year as Supervisor of the Town of Somerset. If I may be so bold to say, that is a pretty good deal for our taxpayers.

Richard Meyers

The Avenger said...

We need more elected officials like Rich Meyers.