by Paul Ross…….
To Citizens and Friends: Recently the Board of County Commissioners held a ‘special’ meeting in where some decisions were made that will affect all of us in one way or another.
To say the least I have served 31 years to MONROE COUNTY I started this career when I was 19 years old. NOW I am being told that my insurance will be going up upon retirement to outrageous portions. (Basically making the rates so high you cannot afford them.) Further, YOU have to wonder what are we possibly going to offer NOW to compete with our surrounding jurisdictions who may twice our salary, cheaper cost of living, and better medical & retirement?
While this affects me directly, this also affects YOU as this may affect the number of applicants we receive and the quality of officers and employees in all county positions.
Our community is awesome and as you can read below from the support of our prior Sheriffs, this action affects ALL MONROE COUNTY EMPLOYEES (that includes Sheriffs Office, Public Works, MC EMS etc), and our community.
The letter below will clarify on what the BOCC did and I hope we can count on your support! They had a special ‘committee’ to create a plan and basically make changes that were not detrimental ……that they might as well ripped up and tossed in the garbage.
With the exception of Commissioner Kholage, sorry to say I am very disappointed with the actions of the other commissioners. This is a dis-service to myself, other employees of the County, AND to YOU!!! I ask for your support in this matter.
Note: Follow this link for video of the special meeting: http://monroecountyfl.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx
STATEMENT SIGNED BY THREE FORMER MONROE COUNTY SHERIFFS
AND A RETIRED CAPTAIN
Dear Monroe County Commissioners;
When I retired in 2013, after thirty-three years of service to the citizens of Monroe County, I was sure that I was done with ever having to come before the County Commissioners again to discuss budgets and my employees’ wages and benefits. (I do still serve as a reserve deputy.)
When my wife and I decided to retire, our decision was based upon our projected income from F.R.S. and our promised benefits from Monroe County. I believe that all other retirees based their decision on the same information and facts. Once on a planned fixed income, with reasonable expectation of their earned and promised continued benefits, retirees sailed into the golden years with a reasonable expectation of continued benefits. We ran the marathon of life, and made it to the finish line. We were ready for our next chapter in life.
I was recently informed of your decision to end all insurance for the retirees; present, past and future. This decision is devastating and catastrophic to retirees with far reaching consequences. This decision sends a very bad message to all employees. Many retirees have no idea what they are going to do, and many do not have the ability to over-come this. Many retirees made their Medicare decision based on free insurance from Monroe County as their supplemental insurance. Their Medicare option once selected cannot be changed. These are all good, honest and hardworking people that set sail into retirement or are getting ready to that are being thrown overboard with reduced benefits when it comes time to collect for a service all ready performed.
Please don’t misunderstand me; we were blessed and grateful for the benefits we “Had”, those that were promised to us in a verbal contract through passed resolutions, which we had to earn.
In our early days it was just promised to us. Then, through resolution, it changed to the rule of seventy, all of which was fine and the right thing to do. As I’m sure you know, my wife Cindy also retired from the Sheriff’s Office after thirty-five years of service. In our early days at the Sheriff’s office, our combined salary was less than $20,000. Then our one hundred and fifty dollar insurance subsidy from F.R.S. which was meant for insurance after twenty five years of service or more was taken. Again, this was fine and rightfully done.
Through those thirty plus years of service, we saw a lot of good people come and go. We made the decision to stick it out and raise our family in Monroe County, because in the end, we felt it would all work out.
We, like many other retirees and current employees, did not just protect and serve, but were a part of the community we served. We, like others volunteered in many ways, such as the Key Largo Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Relay for Life, Masons, Rotary Toys for Tots, and so on – too many more to mention. Sometimes it was tough, but we stuck it out.
I also knew when I was elected Sheriff that I had to do my part for the tax payer. My motto was “do the right things, at the right time, for the right reason, always”. I worked with the County Commission and made the hard decisions with you through budget cuts and holding the line. During that time having to do more with less. I also continued and increased the amount of ICE inmates we received in our correctional facility bringing in millions of dollars to Monroe County over the years.
This recent decision of Monroe County Commissioners will have such far-reaching consequences; to the retirees – absolutely, but it also effect the current employees health and moral as well. It will be devastating to the recruitment and retention of good employees.
Your employees are your greatest asset and must be protected. They are already working in a hard environment to make a living in, to raise a family in and by a home in. They are trying to survive in the highest cost of living area in the United States. There pay is and always has been less that other agencies in South Florida and through-out the state. To continually raise the premiums on employees and then terminate their insurance upon retirement is just wrong.
I know some decisions are hard and you must keep the tax payer in mind, but I ask that you please reflect on this decision and revisit some of the other options. Many of us have followed the Rotary slogan: “Service above Self” and continue to “Protect and Serve”. The commission has a high set of standards and values for the county as do each of you individually but you have a moral obligation to your employees of the past, present and future. This letter is supported by Sheriff Rick Roth who also served Monroe County for over forty four years and Sheriff Allison DeFoor. Sheriff Roth stated “I used the insurance as a recruiting and retention tool.” He also stated “I need that insurance coverage now myself more than ever.” Please reconsider your decisions and help protect the retiree and the employees of Monroe County.
Robert P. Peryam
Retired Sheriff Monroe County 35 years of service
Richard D. Roth
Retired Sheriff Monroe County 44 years of service
J. Allison DeFoor
Former Sheriff Monroe County
Retired Captain Monroe County 35 years of service