Issue of health insurance for future Board of Supervisors is dead

The issue of health insurance benefits being available to future members of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors is dead.

The current Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to discontinue any consideration of future board members participating in the county’s health insurance plan.

The issue had become a major one in the campaigns of several candidates for the Board of Supervisors – namely those of Incumbent Cloyd District Supervisor Joe Guthrie and Massie District candidate John Travis.

Both Guthrie and Travis stated early in their campaigns their opposition to the county’s health insurance plan being available to supervisors, especially considering the cost of such a move. Both said the annual costs could reach $100,000.

Travis went further, saying the supervisors’ insurance coverage would be free at taxpayers’ expense.

Incumbent Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp, in a statement on the issue released recently, said “it is being inaccurately stated that the Board of Supervisors is going to get free health insurance and that it is included in our budget to the tune of $100,000.”

“I want to set the record straight,” Bopp said, “And let everyone know that the Board of Supervisors has not taken any action on this matter.”

Bopp continued, “Furthermore, any discussions of health insurance for future board members would not be free at all. There is no such thing as free county health insurance, employees have to pay their share to enjoy the benefit, and if it were ever offered to future board members, they would have to pay also.”

Bopp said the board had not put $100,000 in its draft county budget for health insurance for future board members.

“There is only around $23,000 in the budget draft as a simple place-holder. The $100,000 some misguided individuals are referencing is actually in the draft budget and is what this board has placed in there for access to community college education,” Bopp stated.

Bopp said anyone stating anything different is “wrong and not telling the truth.”

Monday night, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said he had helped “get the board into this, and I’ll do my best to extricate the board from all this as well.”

Sweet said there is a six-month window prior to the next election of a Board of Supervisors for the current board to consider any adjustment in compensation or any benefit for the next board.

Sweet said it was county staff’s duty to inform the board of this and did so during an organizational meeting of the board in January.

Sweet acknowledged the $23,000 figure placed in the county’s budget proposal was just a place-holder.

The issue can’t be brought up now for four years.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot

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