WORTHINGTON – The Nobles County Commissions on Tuesday unanimously denied a request for continuation of paid coverage benefits upon retirement for elected officials.
The request, brought forward by Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening, included criteria such as at least three terms of service, with two years of paid benefits for every term served.
Wilkening said county employees are allowed to roll money into a health care savings plan, but elected people are not.
“What I’m asking for electeds is nothing that other employees are already getting – they just get it pre-retirement,” Wilkening said.
Commissioner Bob Demuth said he has a hard time supporting real-time tax dollars going toward people no longer in public service, adding that it wasn’t prudent. Newly sworn in Commissioner Bob Paplow stated people wo run for an elected position know what they are applying for.
“You know what you’re going to receive before you get voted in,” he said.
During the discussion, Wilkening said he would be disappointed in the commissioners if they didn’t support the request, because it would show that they don’t value their elected officials.
Several commissioners took offense to his claim, including Demuth.
‘I don’t believe I made any reference to valuing elected officials,” he said, adding that he was disappointed the sheriff would say such a thing.
Commissioner Don Linssen said he has received many phone calls on this subject since it was brought up at a work session, and none of the callers were supportive of the idea.
“They think you are being compensated very well for what you are doing,” Linssen said. He added that he would have no problem looking at the policy, but didn’t believe this is an opportune time to spend more money.