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Sullivan—who also benefits from the taxpayer-funded health plan—said that he and other part-time council members work well more than 40 hours per week and thus should be entitled to some job benefits. But he also believes it's unfair that council members enjoy a generous medical plan that is out of reach of just about every other part-time worker in the city.
"Obviously, having triplets at her age—which is well over 40—there was a month or more in the hospital, so I would imagine the figure is pretty large," Sullivan said. "Although it is a part-time job, there's a lot of stress that could get you into [medical] trouble."
As an example, Sullivan referred to former Surf City mayor Dave Garofalo, who left office last year following a criminal investigation but not before he received taxpayer-funded heart surgery.
"He had open heart surgery, and I'm sure that was a pretty big bill, too," Sullivan said. "But there should be some relation between the average benefits the taxpayers in the city have themselves and what city employees get. I submit there's a vast difference between those two things. There's a real imbalance."
But one of the city's most vocal critics of city-employee benefits, Chuck Scheid, said he doesn't care about Houchen's triplets or the fact that council members receive full medical benefits.
"It's a perk; hell, let's face it," he said. "And it can be a very valuable one, I guess. I don't find anything wrong with it per se, or even that a part-time employee doesn't get it and a part-time elected person does. They tend to get more than the man in the street."Research assistance by Warren Binder and Lauren Korduner.