Lifetime health insurance for elected officials is coming under scrutiny again in Amherst.
Council Member Mark A. Manna has proposed ending lifetime health insurance for elected officials who have not yet qualified for the benefit.
Such a change would impact only full-time elected positions of town supervisor, highway superintendent and town clerk, because Amherst terminated lifetime health insurance for the town’s part-time judges and council members 20 years ago.
However, Manna – who called it an “overgenerous benefit” – was unsuccessful getting his resolution passed by the Town Board, which instead sent the proposal to the town’s Salary Review Committee for a recommendation.
The committee was formed earlier this year to look at compensation packages for elected officials and department heads. Council Member Steven D. Sanders said he wanted the committee to have a chance to weigh in before the Town Board made a decision.
“I don’t know if lifetime health insurance is something the town should be offering anyway, but I want to take a look at compensation as a whole,” said Sanders, a Republican.
“I completely disagree,” said Manna, a Democrat. “We don’t need a committee to tell us that providing lifetime health care for a group of elected officials is a terrible idea.”
Highway Superintendent Robert N. Anderson, who is nearing retirement age, is the most likely to be affected by the proposed change, officials pointed out. Town Clerk Marjory Jaeger would not qualify for the retirement benefit, while Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein receives health insurance through the county from his time as a county legislator.
Amherst has been gradually eliminating lifetime health insurance for its employees over the years. The practice was ended in 1977 for most new union hires, said Robert P. McCarthy, the town’s human resources director.