CONCORD — Concord Councilman Dan Helix voluntarily cut his city pay on Tuesday, announcing at the City Council meeting he would no longer accept the monthly amount he receives for not using the city's health coverage.
"I just felt I didn't need it and I didn't want the distraction," Helix said afterward.
Helix, Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister and Vice Mayor Bill Shinn receive in-lieu payments monthly for using health coverage from outside city hall. Interim City Manager Valerie Barone said the monthly payment is $571.50, or $6,858 a year.
Mayor Ron Leone and Councilman Tim Grayson are covered under the city's health insurance.
Helix said receives a supplement to Medicare called Tri-Care for life as part of his retirement from the Army. He called the coverage sufficient.
"I believe this is appropriate because I do not consider the in-lieu payments to be part of the compensation authorized for city council service," Helix said, reading a statement. "I am not asking anyone to follow my example and I do believe that it is important for each family to have a guaranteed health plan in place to cover medical emergencies."
Hoffmeister has not decided if she will give up the pay. Shinn, who is termed out in December and not running for re-election, said the council is considering options to cut its pay. He said it was premature to discuss the specifics.
Helix's announcement followed the council's 5-0 vote to approve the city's response to a county civil grand jury report on city retirement plans.
Barone said the city's philosophy has been to offer the in-lieu payments as an incentive for all city employees, including council members, to use other health care coverage if possible. The in-lieu payment is the cost of a single person's Kaiser rate, which is cheaper than insuring a family.
Council members also receive base pay. In 2011, the annual base pay for council members ranged from $13,298 to $14,850, according to payroll data obtained by this newspaper.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925 943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.