Commissioners vote to change retirement health care benefits after delegation back-and-forth

After two months of public discussion, the Board of County Commissioners voted to make changes to their retirement health benefits, though some don’t think the changes do enough because they don’t impact the current board.

Commissioners voted on four changes Thursday, all unanimously, though Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, abstained from two of them. The votes were to make changes to their retirement health benefits, an issue recently brought to attention by Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, in a public meeting in December.


Commissioners voted: 4-0, with Howard abstaining, to change the retirement benefit age to 62, for retirees who have served two terms in starting in 2022; 5-0 to ask the county delegation for a salary increase from $45,000 to $50,600 with the seating of the 62nd board in December 2022; 4-0, with Howard abstaining, to keep the current retirement rate scale the same for the current commissioners, and change the rate to 50 percent of the premium equivalent for the board seated after the 2022 election; and 5-0 to change so that commissioners who retire after two terms and are younger than 62 have 18 months of insurance at the 50 percent rate, unless they have coverage under a spouse or a subsequent employer, which would begin with the 62nd board.

But despite the changes, Krebs said she is not happy.

Commissioner retirement healthcare benefits continue to cause strife between county leaders and the local delegation, most recently with Carroll’s representatives bringing the topic up during a legislative discussion in Annapolis on Friday.

“Obviously they don’t want anything to impact them,” she said, adding the benefits the commissioners will get are “unprecedented.” Krebs said the optics of the board are difficult.

“It’s really sad to hear them cry that they don’t have resources,” she added, and it’s hard to advocate for them when they won’t deal with in-house issues that are expensive.

If a retired commissioner is younger than 50, they are only eligible to stay on the plan until they reach Medicare age or until they are eligible for insurance through another employer plan, Winebrenner previously said. If a commissioner is 50 or older, they can stay on the county’s insurance plan, but the county’s liability becomes secondary once they reach Medicare age and Medicare becomes the primary payer.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, gave a presentation proposing options to fix the problem, which laid the groundwork for the changes officially voted on Thursday.

For the next board — which could potentially include current commissioners Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, Richard Weaver, R-District 2, and Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, should they win re-election — there should be a partial phase-in, Rothschild said. This would raise the eligibility age to 62 and increase contributions to 20 percent of the actual retiree cost. For the 62nd board, Rothschild said, the age should be 62 with eight years of service, and contributions should increase to 50 percent of actual retiree cost.

Frazier said Thursday while he supported moving the minimum age to 62, he didn’t support changing the benefits midway through his, Wantz’s and Weaver’s two terms were they to win re-election.

“I don’t think it should be changed in the middle of what we’re doing,” he said, adding that when commissioners ran, they came in with an expectation of what the health insurance and retirement benefits were.

Rothschild agreed, adding that the changes shouldn’t be added retroactively.

“I think this is the only ethical way to do this is moving forward,” he said.


Krebs has taken issue with the benefits, namely the age commissioners are eligible to receive them and the rate scale they paid. She has continually said the benefits are costly and unprecedented.

“It’s a very large financial impact,” she said, adding that with the way the commissioners voted, they could add five more people to those already on these benefits.

Winebrenner previously told the Times there are three retired commissioners and spouses enrolled in health care coverage — Donald Dell, Julia Gouge and Dean Minnich. Former Commissioner Robin Frazier is the only retired elected official with family health care coverage, and there are also two spouses of deceased retired commissioners — John Armacost and William Lauterbach — who are currently enrolled, she said.

Krebs said they asked for a compromise, and what commissioners voted on is not a compromise, adding it’s not unexpected. After bringing the issue up in the December meeting, Krebs also brought the topic up at delegation meeting in Annapolis in January.

“It’s a very expensive benefit to our bottom line and the county taxpayers are paying for this,” Krebs said.

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