Selectmen Finally Tackle Health Insurance For Part Time Elected Officials
by William Dowd 10/4/12
At its meeting on September 19, the Board of Selectmen finally moved to adopt a policy that excludes part time elected officials from Town paid health insurance.
I had proposed this to the Selectmen back in March, but they took no action.
I proposed it again this summer when I learned that such action was clearly within their statutory authority. I even provided them with a proposed policy statement and backup on similar policies adopted by Selectmen in Auburn, Stoneham and Rehoboth. Again, they took no action pending input from Peter Barbieri from the Board of Assessors who made a commitment to follow up on the issue during May Town Meeting debate on my article regarding elected official stipends.
Peter appeared before the Board on the 19th and explained his proposed policy. After a discussion among the Board, during which Chairman Marsden reiterated his belief that the whole topic was a lot of talk and energy about nothing, the Board asked Paul LeBeau to work with outside counsel to draft a policy for adoption at a later meeting. In Chairman Marsden’s opinion, since only one elected official is currently enrolled, there was really no problem to solve. However, given the extremely high cost of health insurance and the continuing efforts to control it, maintaining a policy or providing it to part time elected officials and waiting for 3, 4 or 7 more to enroll before addressing it, is a huge inconsistency. In addition, Peter and the other two Selectmen pointed out that ending the practice did appear to be the sense of Town Meeting.
One aspect of Peter’s proposed policy that I have urged the Selectmen to avoid is the forcing out of the one remaining elected official. As other Towns have done, and as my proposed policy provided, the current enrollee can remain in the plan as long as he continues to serve. There is no legal requirement to force him out now or at the end of his current term. When policies like this change, it is common to hold harmless those already operating under current rules. I am hopeful that they will agree with my suggestion.
All that’s left is to actually vote the policy and I will be watching carefully to make sure that it is not “indefinitely postponed”.
Posted in Comments.