Wicomico Co. Council tackles bolstering benefits for deceased county employees’ families

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – Tuesday morning, Wicomico County Council worked to find ways to bolster support for families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

“We probably need to look at making some adjustments.”

What happened here recently, over these last couple of days, I think, has brought it to the attention of the county and the HR department that we probably need to look at making some adjustments,” said Council President John Cannon.

Those adjustments could soon come in the form of a bill before the Wicomico County Council. The legislation would allow more family members of county employees who die in the line of duty to continue receiving their health care benefits. “As it is right now, the policy would go to a standard COBRA plan, and we know that’s not the most beneficial plan out there. So, we’d like to make it that we can have a more beneficial plan county-wide,” said Cannon.

Currently, only family members of county employees eligible for retirement can continue to receive the benefits. The bill would look to change that, regardless of if the deceased county employee was a member of law enforcement or not.

“We’re very dedicated to our employees. We want them to know that if something were to happen to them in the line of duty, the county will do what it can do for their family members,” said Council member Joe Holloway. “All of our county employees lives are valuable, and all of our employees are valuable. My thoughts are, if someone is killed in the line of duty working for the county, there shouldn’t be a separation.”

Requested Deadline Approaching

During Tuesday’s meeting, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office officials urged the council to pass the legislation before July 31st. They say that’s the day that DFC Hilliard’s health care policy provided by the county would end. However, Cannon says county leaders will likely not be able to meet the Sheriff’s Office requested deadline. He tells 47ABC that’s because the new law would require the regular legislative process, including two public hearings, which could take several weeks.

Even though that requested deadline might not be reached, Cannon says he doesn’t foresee any opposition to the bill. Meaning, the Hilliards could see those health care benefits again.

Supporting DFC Hilliard’s Family

The preliminary discussion on the bill was not the only issue on the table for Wicomico County Council at the meeting. “The first resolution we passed was specifically to benefit Deputy Hilliard’s family. It’s just a matter of formally transferring the $500,000 death benefit contingency to the general fund, so that we can issue that to the family,” said Cannon.

Cannon says $500,000 is the standard payout for families who have lost a loved one employed by the county. He says the resolution allowed $454,101 to be added to the county’s Contingency Account, in order to reach the full amount of $500,000.

Holloway says the end goal of that resolution is to provide the Hilliard family with as much support as possible. “I would think, if it was a situation that I was in, that would be something I would not have to worry about. They have enough other issues; the grieving process, and everything else that goes on with them. They just lost a loved one,” he said.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland, Money