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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: If Council Gets Benefits; So Should Part-time Employees

Editorial: If Council Gets Benefits; So Should Part-time Employees

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council will discuss whether or not to provide health and dental insurance benefits for elected leaders at their June 6th budget workshop. (See page 1A for meeting info). Earlier this year the Council voted three to two on a motion to change the policy. The motion was made by Councilman Gary Doetsch and stated, "... change the dental and health insurance for current and future town council members to be required to pay premiums for dental and health insurance through the town insurance plan which will take effect during the next insurance policy period."
Currently the Town pays for that coverage. The Council left the door open to discuss what percentage they would pay in the future which could be all, none or a percentage.
Putting all other issues aside on this topic, if the Council decides to continue with the status quo and provide coverage for elected officials, why not provide the same for all part-time employees including part time police, fire and lifeguard personnel. The public views elected positions in our small town as a "volunteer" position; Public Service. And unless a Councilperson is retired, they have a day job and cannot work in that capacity full time. They are in fact part-time employees simply based on their small annual salaries. Mayor $8,400. Mayor Pro-Tem $7,800. Council Member $7,200.
True, an elected leader's job is important and sometimes time consuming and complicated. They are faced with some hard decisions when deciding how to govern.
However, when considering insurance benefits, shouldn't the people working hard to maintain town services such as water, sewer, trash, parks, and certainly police, fire and lifeguard personnel, be afforded some level of health insurance coverage even if they are labeled "part-time"?
When I consider the aspects of this issue and I'm at the scene of a fire or watching police officers have to deal with situations that put their lives in danger, I would feel better about five "volunteer" elected leaders getting benefits if those part-time employees received the same benefits.
I'll change my mind when elected leaders start manning lifeguard towers, putting handcuffs on criminals and fighting fires. Until then it's an obvious inequitable benefits system.