QUESTION: Do police officers in Burlington receive some form of subsidized health coverage for their spouses and children that isn’t also available to other full-time city employees?
ANSWER: Being part of Burlington’s police force does come with its perks. In fact, the city’s police officers enjoy a variety of fringe benefits unavailable to other municipal employees – from guaranteed pay raises to “wellness days” when they need time off to decompress and relax.
But when it comes to occupational health benefits, it doesn’t appear that having a badge and a gun confers any special advantage on the city’s police officers.
The unexceptional nature of the police department’s health coverage may not be immediately apparent from the agency’s own recruitment materials. According to one online pamphlet, health coverage for spouses and dependents is not only “available” to Burlington’s police officers but is also “partially subsidized by the city.”
Yet, while not technically inaccurate, this promotional pamphlet merely describes health options that are also on offer to Burlington’s other full-time employees.
According to Morgan Lasater, Burlington’s community engagement director, every city employee is allotted an annual sum of $9,965 for their health coverage – enough to cover the individual staff member under the city’s most basic health plan. Staff members can also opt for more extravagant plans, including those that cover dependents and spouses, although they must dig into their own pockets when the cost of these plans exceeds the city’s annual allotment.
According to Burlington’s city attorney David Huffman, this yearly allocation is the same for everyone on Burlington’s payroll – regardless of which city department they happen to work for.
“Everybody gets served out of the [same] ladle,” Huffman explained in an interview. “It’s the same for police department folks and for everyone else.”
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