Morency forced

ELIZABETHTOWN - A proposal to get all elected officials in line with health insurance contributions sparked a heated debate among Essex County supervisors July 6.

Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava introduced a surprise resolution to address the issue of one board member refusing to make contributions for health insurance benefits.

At the June 15 Personnel Committee meeting, St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency admitted to being the only supervisor not making contributions after Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell initiated discussion on the topic.

Connell argued that Morency's refusal to contribute may appear to be in violation of the county's board-approved employee policy manual, which requires contributions from both union members and department heads.

Morency claimed that the requirement shouldn't apply to elected officials, however; especially those who had been serving since before contributions were first required in 1999. Having been in her post since 1981, Morency is currently the longest-tenured supervisor on the board.

"The board knows that I have always gotten my insurance, and somewhere along the line many of them started being told they had to pay and they are," she said at the June 15 meeting. "I have been told that I would be grandfathered in because of my years of devotion to Essex County."

Scozzafava's proposed resolution would require "all elected officials, both part-time and full-time" to contribute toward their health insurance benefits in the same manner as other county employees. The resolution passed, but not without opposition.

"If we decide to give special treatment in regards to health care insurance, we're going to hear about it from our constituents," said Scozzafava, arguing that elected officials in neighboring counties, who have similar pay and benefits, are also required to contribute.

"It does make us look like elitists when we are discussing special policies for the board of supervisors," said Connell in agreement.

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