Montville registrars' benefits to be studied for possible cuts

Montville - The Town Council met Monday to consider removing medical benefits from the registrar of voters position, but decided to refer the matter to a subcommittee that will also consider removing retirement benefits.

The proposed changes to an ordinance regulating the registrars of voters would make the registrars ineligible for medical benefits beginning in 2015, when their current term ends. The changes were suggested by the Town Administration subcommittee, which has been considering the issue for almost a year.

Councilor Joseph Jaskiewicz commented that the registrars should not, in his opinion, receive retirement benefits - an issue that was not addressed in the proposal - and members of the Town Administration admitted that they were not aware that the registrars received retirement benefits.

Montville has offered benefits to its part-time registrars since 1991. Most other Connecticut towns do not offer benefits for the position, a point that councilors have used to explain why they want to remove the benefits.

But at a public hearing on Monday, Democratic Registrar of Voters Lorraine Elliot said that the work she and her Republican counterpart do is not comparable to other towns. In some towns, such as Groton, registrars work as little as 5 hours a week, while Elliot and her counterpart work 20 hours.

Republican Registrar of Voters Mary Clark-Wilson said that it would cost about one-third of her salary to pay for her own health insurance.

Several other people spoke against the changes at the public hearing. Many town employees who have worked with Elliot and Clark-Wilson, including former town councilor John Geary, said they were dedicated employees and asked the council to wait until they retire to implement the changes.

"If you're going to take benefits away from people who are part-time, you should take them away from all part-time people," said Jim Andriote. "They are being singled out."

Councilors said that they had tried their best to compromise with the registrars by allowing them to keep their benefits until the end of their terms, and that the changes were being made in the interest of fiscal responsibility.

"It is not a benefit that is practiced in other places," said Councilor Rosetta Jones. "I understand the emotional toll it has taken on the registrars of voters [but] I thought it was a fair compromise."

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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