Kudos to Washington County Commissioner Ethan Flynn for recognizing that county revenue can be better spent on capital projects instead of lining the pockets of commissioners, and to the Press (on March 13) for disclosing how much the commissioners are costing the county in subsidized health insurance.
As noted in the article, two commissioners cost the county $15,000 a year each in health insurance fees, and another eight cost the citizens of Washington County almost $10,000 each. Over the last four years, around $500,000 has been allocated to subsidizing our part-time commissioners’ health insurance. Is it legal? Yes. Is it financially responsible to spend those taxpayer dollars in that way instead of providing services to us all? Not so much.
Though I’ve never met challenger Joe Wise, I find it admirable that he has stated he will refuse the heavily subsidized insurance benefit if elected. Perhaps we all should look for like-minded candidates who put the financial needs of the county ahead of their own personal gains. Maybe if more commissioners felt the sting of paying market rates for health insurance like the majority of us, they might be more sensitive to representing the financial considerations of the voters.
Commissioners do deserve compensation for their civic service, perhaps even more than the $374-a-month salary. But subsidized insurance to the tune of a half million dollars every four years is both excessive and financially irresponsible. One potential solution would be to increase their monthly salary to $500, but eliminate the insurance subsidy. Even with this salary increase, the county would still save around $80,000 a year.
It’s important to note that the current situation will not change until people change the situation with their votes. Educate yourself on where the candidates stand on this issue and vote with both your conscience, and their wallets, in mind.