Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty voted against the proposal to have the insurance plan for town employees mirror the GIC benchmark plan at the March 23rd meeting of the Town Council. With the proposal scheduled to be taken up again tonight, Councilor Moriarty has changed his position.
He explained his change of heart earlier today on his FaceBook page.
At 6:00 tonight, there will be a special Council of the Whole meeting in Council Chambers. The debate will center around the health insurance program offered to Town employees.
It was in the fall that I, among other Councilors, pushed to have the health insurance offerings looked at and improved in an attempt to retain good employees in the schools, in the ranks of the police and fire departments, over at the DPW, and in the offices of Town Hall. Currently, Town employees share a 50/50 split for their health insurance -- something that has been a recurring theme in exit interviews for those who choose to leave for other communities.
Our interim Town Manager and the Town's financial team put in a great deal of work and time looking at the matter, and have proposed several options to investigate further. Among them is what is known as the benchmark plan.
The benchmark plan would restructure the costs associated with health care, allowing for a more employee-friendly split (60/40 being the goal for the immediate future). On the downside, co-pays would increase noticeably for those on the Town insurance. While high claims drive up costs, our Town employees are not abstract numbers or welchers of a system, but rather are our friends, our family, our neighbors. They are people we should do right by.
At the same time, we must be cognizant and mindful of the Town's finances, raised through taxes. Creating an 80/20 split would be great, but at what cost? A balance must be struck, and all parties must be heard and considered as the Town weighs its options.
Having attended the majority of IAC meetings, doing my own research, talking employees with varying opinions, and learning a great deal more about the issues and options, I find myself of the belief that the benchmark plan provides the best bang for the buck for both sides, while moving the needle to a more favorable split for the employees.
As a Town Council, we have obligations to the taxpayers and residents of our community. As a Town, we have an obligation to our employees. The benchmark does the most good for the greatest number of people, which is why I have grown to support it.