All but four elected officials get health care or a stipend

All but four elected officials get health care or a stipend

PAWTUCKET – All but four elected officials in Pawtucket get either medical benefits or a buy-back stipend from the city.

Information provided to The Breeze in response to a records request shows that three City Council members, Larry Tetreault, Terry Mercer and Tim Rudd, don’t take the health care or stipend, while School Committee member Joe Knight also doesn’t take it either.

Mayor Donald Grebien, along with Council President David Moran, Councilor Albert Vitali Jr., and School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau all accept full family health care plans, at an annual cost of $19,601 each per year.

Councilors John Barry and Mark Wildenhain, as well as School Committee member John Crowley, all have individual medical plans costing $7,819 apiece.

City Councilor Sandra Cano took the $500 buy-back option for $500, while new Councilor Meghan Kallman got a $208 buy-back for a partial year.

School Committee members Erin Dube, Michael Araujo and Joanne Bonollo all receive a $1,500 buy-back stipend for not taking health benefits from the city. Board member Elena Vasquez received $208 for a partial year.

Total health plan costs for elected officials tops $107,000 per year.

According to statements, all elected officials accept their annual salary for their work in governing Pawtucket. The cost for all salaries for City Council and School Committee members is about $102,000.

City Council members earn $8,047 a year, with Moran earning $9,197. School Committee members earn $4,023 a year, with Charbonneau earning $4,598. Grebien earns $91,973 in salary as the only full-time official represented.

The matter of pay and benefits for elected officials has long been a point of debate in Pawtucket, with candidates often promising not to take the health benefits during election campaigns.

During the 2010 election campaign, Grebien said he would decline the health benefits and urged other elected officials to do the same. His opponent at the time, Henry Kinch Jr., said pay and health benefits were fair compensation for the work of governing.

Grebien told The Breeze his goal in 2010 was to “lead by example” during tough financial times by declining the health benefits. He said he avoided using the city benefits until he was removed from his provider’s family plan under the requirements of the Affordable Care Act in 2014.

When he came into office in 2011, “minimal medical copays” were at about $5 for individuals and $10 for families per week, said Grebien. Over the last six years, all medical copay contributions have increased, reducing the burden to residents.

He said all elected officials, whether working full time or part time, are now paying the highest copays in the city at 27 percent.

Comments

I didn't know that any elected, part-time officials were still exhibiting the audacity to allow themselves undeserved health coverage! Amazing to me that such greed still exists among those who claim to do it for the benefit of the community, not themselves.

For the record, I never took the healthcare benefits and any buyout was given to charity.

Also, I presented to the Charter Review Commission last year a proposal that would have put before the voters a question as to whether or not to grant health benefits to newly elected part-time officials beginning with the election of November 2018.

If passed, attrition would eventually eliminate the benefit. Unfortunately, the Commission did not see fit to forward it to the Pawtucket City Council for consideration.

I can be reached at 401-724-2611 with any questions. Thank you.

I am guessing that many of the officials, both present and past, did not take the healthcare because they are or were covered by a very good plan already. I don't think many are refusing to take the healthcare for any other reason. Those that don't take it and donate the buyout money are to be commended. But, that's a personal choice and doesn't reflect badly on those that do, IMO. Calling any of the scenarios Greed is a joke.