Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso was elected chairman of the council Monday night.

Grasso, a Glen Burnie Republican, will lead council meetings for the next year.

In Anne Arundel, the chairman generally is a member of the majority party and traditionally rotates among members of the party.

The Anne Arundel County Council has four Republican and three Democrats. All seven seats will be up for election in 2014.

Grasso, who is often outspoken about issues important to him, takes over from Councilman Jerry Walker, a Gambrills Republican who led the council for the past year.

Grasso takes over as the council is immersed in a lengthly and complex debate over how to trim costs for retiree health care benefits. The council is weighing two bills that would change retiree plans in order to save money.

The council previously formed a committee that reviewed the issue of costly retiree health benefits and County Executive Laura Neuman has said the county's health program is unsustainable.

pwood@baltsun.com

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