Montville registrars may lose health benefits

Montville - Proposed changes to a town ordinance would leave the two registrars of voters without medical and disability benefits when their terms end in 2014.

There will be a public hearing on the issue at 6:30 p.m. on June 10 in the Town Hall Council Chambers.

The changes were first suggested last June, when the Town Administration Committee noted that approximately 75 percent of other Connecticut towns do not offer benefits to employees who work part-time.

Every town has a different arrangement for its registrars, said Republican Registrar of Voters Mary Clark-Wilson, and comparing Montville to other towns is like comparing apples and oranges.

Clark-Wilson said that she and her Democratic counterpart, Lorraine Elliot, work 20 hours a week and are already the lowest-paid town employees. By removing benefits, the town is effectively taking away 30 percent of their salaries, she said.

"Shame on the Town Council," said Clark-Wilson, who plans to speak against the proposal at the public hearing.

When the issue first came up last June, Clark-Wilson appeared before the Town Administration Committee to request that she and Elliot be grandfathered in if the changes are passed. They both plan to retire within a few years, she said, and medical benefits are difficult to obtain at their age.

This February, Elliot repeated the same request. She has been a registrar of voters for more than 25 years, and Clark-Wilson has been a registrar for 13 years.

The two women also offered to work additional hours if it meant they could keep their benefits, said Clark-Wilson. She said she felt the town was treating the registrars as "second-class citizens" because they are elected officials and therefore not represented by a union.

At the Town Council meeting, Town Administration Committee Chairman Laura Tanner said that the committee felt that two years was plenty of time for the registrars to make other arrangements for medical insurance.

Tanner and Town Council Chairwoman Candy Buebendorf did not return calls and emails asking for comment on the issue.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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