OUR VIEW: Commissioners cutting insurance a nice gesture


By Daily News • Last Updated 10:31 am on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our commissioners have been looking at their own compensation and health insurance since the results of a 19-county survey were released last year.

Montcalm County is home to the second-highest paid commissioners compared to six neighboring counties. Our commissioners earn an annual salary of $8,331. The chairman of the board and the chairman of the Finance & Personnel Committee earn an annual salary of $9,5811.

Our commissioners also have heath and life insurance, as do most surrounding counties.

On Monday, commissioners voted 5-4 to eliminate their own health insurance. They also voted 7-2 to reduce the salary of the chairman of the Finance & Personnel Committee by $1,250.

We commend our commissioners for taking these actions.

But the Board of Commissioners’ budget only comprises about 1 percent of Montcalm County’s entire general fund budget. Eliminating their own health insurance will not make a major difference in the county’s budget situation.

However, the vote showed the commissioners’ solidarity with everyone who is working hard to make ends meet in Montcalm County. The vote also showed that our commissioners don’t take their benefits for granted.

Last year, commissioners voted to make $1.3 million in budget cuts countywide to deal with a deficit. No one was spared — cuts were made to the 4-H program, Animal Control, the Clerk’s Office, the courts, Emergency Management, the Equalization Department, the Health Department, the jail, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Register of Deeds Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office … and more cuts are all but guaranteed next year.

Now commissioners are downsizing where it hurts them the most — their own health insurance.

The cuts won’t take affect until January 2013, but constituents appreciate the action and are saying so on our Facebook page.

“Right or wrong, it sure was a nice gesture to helping solve the problem,” noted Jordan Ellis.

Others voiced a wish that other leaders would follow the example of our local commissioners.

“Too bad that behavior would not rub off on more publicly elected officials, like, say, the ones that normally vote to give themselves raises and more benefits,” said Stephen Ray Perry.

“Too bad we can’t see this happening in Washington and Lansing and all government,” added Betty Petonquot.

We agree. Wouldn’t it be nice if our commissioners started a state and national trend?

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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