Sarpy County officials who get free health benefits soon will start paying monthly premiums like other county employees.
The County Board voted Tuesday to change an arrangement in which taxpayers subsidize 100 percent of the health and dental premiums for elected officials, chief deputies and some department heads. The policy was established in the mid-1990s.
Most elected officials and deputies will begin sharing these costs after the 2014 election. For department heads, the change occurs in July 2014.
Currently the county wholly subsidizes the benefits of 31 of 452 employees. Board Chairman Jim Warren estimates the change will save the county about $100,000 a year.
“It's good to get it done,” Warren said. “I kind of ran on this pledge, and I didn't get a lot of traction the first time around.”
The board voted earlier this year to forfeit its own subsidized benefits package, and Warren and others on the board pushed to change the policy for elected officials, too.
But some board members balked, pointing to a provision in the Nebraska Constitution that prohibits midterm changes to compensation packages.
Because the changes won't take effect until after the next election, the two sides were able to reach an agreement, said Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.
Compensation for the elected officials' next term must be set by Jan. 15.
The board expects the results of a salary study in the next few weeks, said board member Brenda Carlisle.
“In the end we came to a good compromise,” Carlisle said. “Everybody came away happy.”
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