Local News

Healthy Debate Launched Over Benefits for Cary Council Members

Posted November 14, 2007

— They may be part-time elected officials, but Cary's council members are now eligible for the same health benefits as town employees. A new town policy also provides benefits to members who leave office, including those whom voters turn out of office.

In Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, health benefits are not extended to elected officials after they leave office. Wake and Durham counties do allow post-term commissioners to stay on the town's health plan, and Cary is giving outgoing council members the same opportunity.

“I don't think it's wrong at all to treat them like full-time employees, instead of part-time employees, in terms of health-care because to many, it is a full-time job,” said Don Hyatt, Webmaster for CaryPolitics.org.

The new policy, approved Nov. 8, applies to ex-council members who were enrolled in the town's health plan. If a person served two full, four-year terms, the town subsidizes half of that council member's health premium. For three full terms, 75 percent is subsidized.

If the person served four full terms, the town pays for the entire policy after he or she leave office.

Hyatt said the proposal was partly driven by members' wanting to help longtime councilman Jack Smith, who needs a kidney transplant.

"The combination of several having health problems and Jack having serious health problems got it up for discussion,” Hyatt said.

Council members who voted for the proposal were: Mayor Pro Tem Ernie McAlister, Jack Smith, Jennifer Robinson and Nels Roseland. Erv Portman, Julie Robison and Marla Dorrel voted against it.

The supporters did not make themselves available to talk on-camera Wednesday to WRAL's Renee Chou.

Portman said he doesn't think the health plan is a good use of taxpayer money.

“I just felt it was not something that's been historically offered to council members and I didn't see justification for expanding that benefit,” he said.

Annual costs to cover health premiums runs from $3,500 to $4,000 per person.

Robison, Robinson, Roseland and Smith are enrolled under the town's health insurance plan.

Roseland is the only current member who would be affected by the extension of benefits, since he was not re-elected. However, he said he will discontinue his benefits.

The policy will have the town subsidize premiums until Medicare coverage kicks in or age 65, whichever comes first.


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  • Cary Parker Nov 15, 2007

    How much do think Cary Town Council members are paid?

  • AX Nov 15, 2007

    Of course the council members were going to vote in favor of something that benefits ONLY them. This should have been voted on by the tax payers. Now that they are receiving this free insurance from their part time employer, it directs more $ into their full time paychecks as the payroll deduction for healthcare no longer exists. I hope with this savings they plan to help charities this season.

  • naturalborncitizen Nov 14, 2007

    Geez, does everyone get to keep their health benefits after they are fired from their jobs and have the former employer pay for them forever.

  • WakeHammer Nov 14, 2007

    'Poison pill' time for the outgoing administration. Thank you Ernie & company. Council deliberated on this agenda item at 11:30pm on the night of the meeting, with no opportunity for public hearing.
    I know of no private companies who give lifetime benefits after 16 years of service, the town of Cary doesn't even do that for their own employees.
    Sneaky and unfair.

  • amenmike Nov 14, 2007

    I'm a moving to Cary and running for office, I want medical benefits. LMAO

  • allfunfamily Nov 14, 2007

    I do feel for the person who has the medical issue but folks enough is enough. I would love to be able to vote for my company to take care of a portion of my health insurance for the rest of my life only after a few years of service. Quite frankly if you are elected to serve the community than do that serve without strings attached that benefit you individually.

  • lizard Nov 14, 2007

    “I don't think it's wrong at all to treat them like full-time employees, instead of part-time employees, in terms of health-care because to many, it is a full-time job,” said Don Hyatt, Webmaster for CaryPolitics.org.

    Where's the sense of fairness and proportionality? These people are treating themselves BETTER than full time employees. One has to work 15 years fulltime to get the same benefits they voted themsleves, for being in office 8 years!

    Well, I guess the employees can kiss goodbye any merit raises for the next couple of years.

  • MajorLeagueinfidel Nov 14, 2007

    They serve a fraction of the time overall and in a part-time capacity and out easily outdistance the regular Town Employees...typical response of the elite to continue to look after themselves...the Mayor of course on his way out, makes sure to look after himself....how typical...BYE BYE, Mayor...BYE BYE NELS...hopefully Jack Smith will be next....

  • jeff275771234 Nov 14, 2007

    gotta love cary!! what a rat hole.

  • jgirl5830 Nov 14, 2007

    If you go to the Town Of Cary web site and look under benefits it says in black and white that you have to be a full time employee to get medical coverage. They should be ashamed of themselves for taking it, I feel for the guy with the kidney problem but its not the Towns responsibility.