SAN JOSE (AP) — Hundreds of part-time elected officials in the San Francisco Bay area receive full-time health care benefits at taxpayer expense, according to a newspaper group’s report.

The Bay Area News Group said Sunday that 61 percent of small cities and 47 percent of school districts in its survey provided full-time health care benefits last year to its elected leaders, many of whom only attend meetings once or twice a month.

By contrast, one in four private employers offers health benefits to part-time employees, according to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The cities that offered full-time coverage spent an average $8,508 per official on health benefits or cash payments in 2010, more the average $8,037 the officials received in base pay, according to the report.

“The only reason there isn’t more outrage is that most people aren’t aware of this,” said Kris Vosburgh, who heads the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “It amounts to a gift of public funds, a theft from taxpayers.”

But elected officials such as San Mateo City Councilman David Lim said the benefits serve as an incentive for people to run for public office.

“You want everyone to have the opportunity to run for office,” said Lim, who last year declined San Mateo’s full health care plan but received $2,823 from a city-paid flexible medical spending account. “I don’t know anybody who does this for the money.”

Critics say cash-strapped government agencies can’t afford such generous benefits when depressed revenue and budget shortfalls are forcing cuts in jobs and services.

“It’s not right,” said Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour, the president of the League of California Cities, who doesn’t receive city benefits even though his elected position is considered full-time.

Part-time elected officials “need to get paid something,” he said, but “I just don’t agree that we should get health insurance — not unless it’s a full-time job.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (9)
  1. reggie says:

    where do i sign up for the gravy train? i work part-time and don’t get jack.
    they’re just a bunch of sleazy crooks.

  2. Lan Nguyen says:

    THAT IS 1000% UNFAIR

  3. Lan Nguyen says:


  4. Brandywine3 says:

    YEAH I GET IT………..OOPS, NO I DON’T!!! Is this stuff ever going to end? Anybody out there remember voting for this? I know I didn’t. In fact, until this article, I didn’t even know it was common practice. We are a nation of sheep who have been consumed by wolves.

  5. Brian Basinger says:

    The goal is to lift everyone up, not tear each other down. The whole notion of tying access to life saving health care to one’s employment status is wrong on so many levels. Health care is a fundamental human right whether working full-time, part-time, being younger than working age, older than working age, laid off, disabled, or a stay-at-home Mom. Here in San Francisco, I do think all City workers, including elected and appointed officials, should participate in our HealthySF healthcare program. This would improve healthcare for all.

  6. Brandywine3 says:

    That’s the way all of this starts, one little perk here, one little perk there. I have no problem as long is it’s all up front. If we’re told then there’s no surprise. If we get to vote, then there’s no surprise. City’s, Counties, hell the whole country should declare bankruptcy, we give all this stuff out and have no way to pay for it. The water works is asking for a 46% rate increase… got it right, a 46% rate increase. Of course they wont get it, but they will get something, 10%, 20%, unless we all do something about it. I work, but health care is not part of my wages. I pay my own way. I budget for it out of the money I make…….that’s just the way it should be.

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