Board will not revise health insurance policy for ex-commissioner TuckerPublished 10:16am Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Mower County Board of Commissioners voted down a proposal Tuesday to modify the county’s retirement health insurance eligibility policy which would have allowed ex-commissioner Ray Tucker to qualify for retiree benefits.
Tucker, who lost his seat on the board last November to Polly Glynn, had served on the board for 16 years but was 61 years old when he gave up his seat this year. Under county policy for the employee class Tucker was in, a person is eligible for retirement insurance benefits if they serve at least 15 year and are 62 or older. Tucker had more than the required years of service, and requested the board count that extra year toward his age requirement.
Yet the board didn’t want to appear favorable to Tucker when county administration had worked with county union workers to decrease retiree health insurance benefits over the past few years.
“How can the county negotiate in good faith with its unions if it doesn’t apply its contracts fairly with its own leadership?” said commissioner Tony Bennett.
Bennett joined Glynn and board chairman Jerry Reinartz in voting down the proposal 3-1. Commissioner Tim Gabrielson voted for the modification and Commissioner Mike Ankeny was not present.
Gabrielson said he had voted in favor of Tucker’s proposal largely for personal reasons, but he could see there were “very good reasons why not to” support the proposal.
“I understand and I support the way the board ended up voting on this issue,” Gabrielson said.
Unless Tucker wants to further pursue his case, the commissioners believe the issue is settled. Tucker was at the meeting Tuesday and declined to comment.
The county technically has more than $30 million in liability to cover retirement benefits, with about $6 million set aside to cover benefit costs, according to County Commissioner Craig Oscarson.