Steamboat City Council will keep health insurance benefits |

Steamboat City Council will keep health insurance benefits

Hayden school bond recount scheduled to begin Nov. 30.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council members won't have to worry about losing their taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits anytime soon.

City voters handily approved the health benefits for their elected officials Tuesday, with 64 percent of residents supporting the measure.

Since 1990, council members have been offered the insurance perks as compensation for their service. But the city's legal team discovered last year the benefits were actually illegal because voters had never endorsed them as is required in the city charter.

No current city officials or council members are sure why the council started getting the benefits without going to a public vote.

But a majority of city voters made it clear Tuesday they don't have an issue with the council continuing to get the benefits.

The cost of the benefit varies from city employee to city employee. But the government budgeted to spend up to $95,000 for all of the council’s combined health insurance benefits this year.

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Council members see the health insurance benefit as helpful in recruiting new candidates.

They also looked at what other mountain communities in Colorado offer their elected officials and concluded health insurance benefits were not out of the norm.

For example, Breckenridge, Durango and Vail are among the cities and towns that offer similar benefits.

The Steamboat council did voluntarily remove such things as a $400 recreation bonus from their insurance benefit plan because it was not common in other communities.

Just like city employees, council members pay premiums for the health plan.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.