Christopher D. Hemphill, Esquire

Office of the Attorney GeneralJanuary 23, 2015

2015 WL 682419 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2015-00004
*1 January 23, 2015

Re: Reimbursement of Health Insurance Premiums

*1 Christopher D. Hemphill, Esquire
*1 Attorney for the Town of Caledonia
*1 Post Office Drawer 1426
*1 Columbus, Mississippi 39703
Dear Mr. Hemphill:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood received your letter of request and assigned it to me for research and reply.
*1 Your letter states in part:
*1 The Town is considering the hiring of an employee to work half time for half of the pay for the position pursuant to Title 27, Part 210, Chapter 34 Section 103(1)(a) of the PERS Regulations. This person retired from another Mississippi governmental entity, not the Town, several years ago. When they retired, this person kept their health insurance through the state plan and they have continued to pay their own health insurance premiums. I am familiar with your opinion to Amy Berry dated March 20, 2012 wherein you opined that a governmental entity may pay the health insurance premiums, subject to the provisions of that entity's plan, for a PERS retiree who is re-employed. The Town does not presently sponsor a health insurance plan for the Mayor, Aldermen or other employees of the Town.
Questions and Responses
*1 Question 1: If this employee is hired for half the pay for half time work, may the Town agree to reimburse the re-employed retiree for the health insurance premiums that this person pays to keep health insurance through another state sponsored plan? Of course, I have found clear statutory authority for a governmental entity to pay a portion or all of the health insurance premiums for an employee for a plan purchased/sponsored by that entity, but nothing that discusses reimbursement for premiums paid by the employee either through a personal plan or another group plan.
*1 Response: No. The proposal is to set the salary at half the full amount for the position. Reimbursement of insurance premiums paid by the re-employed retiree who elected to remain a member of the state health insurance plan by paying the entire cost thereof would, in our opinion, violate Section 96, Mississippi Constitution of 1890 which prohibits the granting of extra compensation beyond the contract made. In addition, payment of the additional sums to the employee would exceed the limit allowed for re- employment under Section 25-11-127 under the facts presented.
*1 Question 2: If the Town can legally reimburse the employee for these premiums, will that employee continue to be eligible for monthly PERS retirement payments pursuant to the applicable PERS regulations?
*1 Response: Our response to your first question renders this question moot.
*1 Question 3: If the Town can legally reimburse the premiums, should the reimbursement be treated as income for which taxes are withheld and paid to the state and federal government and included on that person's W-2 at the end of the year?
*1 Response: Our response to your first question renders this question moot.
Applicable Law
*2 Mississippi Code Annotated Section 25-15-103 (Revised 2010) provides in part:
*2 Any employee who retires due to one hundred percent (100%) medical disability, or due to reaching the statutory age of retirement under the provisions of the Public Employees' Retirement Law of 1952, being Sections 25-11-101 through 25-11-139, may, if he elects, remain a member of the group plan for such life insurance and other benefits as may be agreed to by the governing board or institution, department, or agency head and the companies writing such insurance and other coverage, by paying the entire costs thereof. (Emphasis added)
*2 Section 96, Mississippi Constitution of 1890 provides:
*2 The Legislature shall never grant extra compensation, fee, or allowance, to any public officer, agent, servant, or contractor, after service rendered or contract made, nor authorize payment, or part payment, of any claim under any contract not authorized by law; but appropriations may be made for expenditures in repelling invasion, preventing or suppressing insurrections.
*2 Section 96 is applicable to municipalities. Palmertree v. Gerrard, 43 So.2d 381 (Miss. 1949); Vicksburg v. Crichlow, 16 So.2d 749 (Miss. 1949).
*2 Jim Hood
*2 Attorney General
*2 By: Phil Carter
*2 Special Assistant Attorney General
2015 WL 682419 (Miss.A.G.)
End of Document