Archived Story

Board makes tough, but fair, choice

Published 9:54am Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daily Herald Editorial

The Mower County Board of Commissioners made the right call when it refused to modify county policy to benefit an ex-commissioner.

Ray Tucker, who lost his board seat last November to Polly Glynn, repeatedly asked the board to consider amending the county’s retirement health insurance benefit policy so he could draw full retiree benefits. Tucker didn’t miss retiree benefit eligibility by much: He served on the board for 16 years, and at 61 is only one year younger than the retirement age set by county officials.

Though he asked the board to be lenient, trading a year of service to make up for his age requirement, Tucker was wrong to expect the county board to take care of former policy-makers when the county can’t take care of its other retiring employees in the same manner.

Faced with more than $30 million in liability for benefits to retired employees, the county has gradually decreased retiree health insurance benefits. New employees will not draw the same benefits when they retire as do county workers who retired in years past. In other words, making an exception for a former county commissioner would have sent the wrong message to rank-and-file county employees.

Though Tucker faithfully and ably served the county for 16 years and did much to improve the area, it would create a dangerous precedent to have granted him insurance benefits for which he did not technically qualify, and it would be a great insult to the employees who have decreased retirement health insurance benefits, let alone those who go without. Commissioners who voted against the special exception made the right decision.

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