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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area


At a special called Mena City Council meeting in December, council members voted to increase their pay. However, the increase will not line the pockets of councils members with cash, but will assist the offset of health insurance premiums.
“It’s not really an increase,” Council member James Earl Turner explained. “All elected officials as part of their compensation are offered health insurance for themselves and they can pay to add their spouses or family.”
The insurance typically costs the city approximately $400 per month. The council members are currently getting $350 per month in pay.
“When you turn 65 an elected official gets cut off on the health insurance,” Turner explained. “So, at 65 an elected official loses over $400 in compensation and will end up spending the $350 the council members get to buy insurance or go on medicare with a supplement to cover the things that the health insurance paid that medicare doesn’t, like drugs, vision, dental, etcetera. So, we really didn’t get a raise we just got back to where we were.”
Turner said only one of the council members is still getting insurance.
“So that person was getting full compensation and the rest of us were basically serving for free,” he said. “Which all of us would do, but it’s not fair for someone under 65 to get paid and the ones over 65 not get paid.”
Katie Bodenhamer, General Manager & Legal Counsel for the Municipal Health Benefit Program for the Arkansas Municipal League said the Mena City Council compensation is not out of the normal for elected officials across the state.
“[This] is fairly common—we have a number of groups that offer health benefits to its elected officials,” Bodenhamer said.
“Depending on a group’s experience, basic medical coverage for employees can run between $313 per employee to $547 per employee,” she continued. “Based on the City of Mena’s current experience, basic medical coverage for its employees is $423 per employee, and basic medical plus dental, vision and Life/AD&D is $447.58 per employee.”
The Municipal Health Benefit Program covers approximately 17,500 lives, with 37 total covered lives for the City of Mena.

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