Monday was the first meeting of the Shelby County Commission for the 2018-19 year.
The mostly ceremonial meeting introduced all 13 commissioners, a majority of whom are new. Second term commissioner Van Turner was selected as chairman.
“I think we have a diverse commission not only with ethnicity, but also in thought and in experiences, so I’m very happy.” said Turner about leading the Shelby County Commission.
The commission will now get to work evaluating a controversial move by outgoing commissioners during their final meeting.
That resolution lowered the requirement from 15 years’ service to eight years to receive retiree health insurance benefits.
Until it was vetoed by outgoing Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, more than 2-thousand county employees would have been eligible for the benefit beginning in 2020.
Many of those employees lost the benefit in 2007.
Turner says they were promised they would get their retirement health insurance back in the future.
“What was done previously was done previously was to restore benefits back to employees after those employees made that sacrifice when the county was in bad shape from a financial standpoint,” said Turner.
Turner says the commission will seek community input and as a committee is formed to study the possibility of restoring the benefit and at what cost to the county.
“Right now, we’ve enjoyed a surplus. We’ve decreased taxes, so I think we’re in a position now to look at perhaps restoring some of the benefits back to those employees who had to sacrifice,” said Turner. “Should we do it at the amount that it’s at now? That needs to be looked at. Should we do less? Let’s look at it.”