Metro Council Insurance

Following the news last night on FOX, I have received many emails from constituent about Insurance for Council members. I appreciate everyone that emailed, please note I do read them all and I respond as much as I can. I thank the ones that emailed and objected in a civil manner. Finally, for those that ask why I voted last time the way that I did, below is my explanation. I am copying and pasting my response to another constituent below. I hope it explain my stance. I look forward to further debate and conversations on the floor tonight

Let me start by saying that I am currently not on Metro insurance. If you watch the budget committee meeting, I did not have any comment. I understand my privilege, and it is easy for me to say lets take it away because it does not impact me. However, my view changed after the budget meeting as I listen to my colleagues, after which I decided to not support the bill. Below are my takeaways from our discussion and why I voted against in personnel meeting.

I am not against a full discussion of the bill. However, I wanted to share with you as my reasons for opposing the bill. Also please note that the fiscal analysis shows the insurance cost $800K in 2021 and if continue will be $1.2M in 2021. Therefore the savings is $400K and not $3M. This is still a lot of money during this trying times but wanted to put it in perspective. I am copying and pasting my response to another constituent below:

1.            Council did not vote to arbitrarily increase their salaries last year. This is a misinformation. Yes, council salaries was increased but it was because metro employee salaries increased and council are considered employee. According to CM Allen, the council at the time tried to exclude themselves but the law does not allow it

2.            Many argued that this incentive is only offered by metro Nashville. My understanding is that other councils pay more in salary

3.            Being a council member truly is a full time job, and I would beg to differ if anyone thought otherwise. I have a full time job, but over the past year I have spent every minute of my free time (lunch, breaks, etc) returning calls, checking emails, etc.  Then after I get home and get my daughter settled, I work on more council tasks. I spend my weekend researching and preparing for meetings. I barely sleep. This is  only way I can do both jobs well. I cannot quit my job because council salary will not adequately support my family and because frankly, I don’t want to. But I empathize with my fellow council members who choose to pursue this full time. And I am an at large council person. I can only imagine that district people get more call and do more. Case in point, I typical don’t receive a 10pm email from my regular job but that is not the case with council. Constituents email and call 24/7

4.      I listened as 3 of my colleagues spoke about leaving their job to run for office. In the real world, people take on jobs that pay less if the benefits are good. For many the insurance incentive is the benefit. And If this incentive is  removed, our pool of candidates will shrink and we don’t want that.  CM VanReece, CM Porterfield are very hardworking and are among those that spoke about leaving their jobs. We do not want a homogeneous council, we need strong people’s advocate. In addition CM Hurt shared a story of a former council member who was not able to find insurance after so many year on council and CM Vercher articulated the impact on minorities running for office

5.            Please note that the insurance is not free and that councilmembers do pay a portion just like when they are on the council. Also SEIU – the union that represents metro employees is not in favor of the bill.

6.            Finally for me, if this insurance was taken away, the savings will be about  $400,000. This equates to less that 2cents savings on the tax rate. Some of the people that fought hard for citizens during the budget cycle are some of the people that are advocating for the benefit. I honestly believe that the benefits to the citizens outweighs the cost. A diverse county, and equitable council and a pool of hard working folks that will fight for the people. Unfortunately, not all of them has or will have a full time job that provides insurance; and if everyone is forced to do two jobs, not everyone will be willing to be responding to emails at 2am. Overall, the citizens will lose out then in the end.

We do not have to agree but calling people names and doubting people integrity is not necessary. For those that emailed and vilify me and called me greedy and selfish- that is totally unwarranted. As someone not on the insurance, my decision was never about me. I have always made my decision based on what I believe is best and based on the information at my disposal at the time. Does that mean I am always right, no, but my name and integrity has never and will never be in question. I believe the same goes for my colleagues.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback


  1. Stephen Cascioppo on September 1, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for your explanation. But sorry I don’t agree. Not once did you mention “public service”. The motto of the government agency I worked for was “The Noblest Motive is the Public Good”. That is why people get into government and politicians are expected to sacrifice. But for you each example was about the “needs“ of a fellow council member. No words about the impact on the tax payer. The people you are supposed to represent.

    Your estimate of savings is wrong as well. Each year these insurance rates go up and more people get added to the plan. So the “savings” is future savings that will reach the multi-millions if not stopped now.

    I suggest you research the multi BILLION dollar liability in California for their retiree health insurance program. That’s fact and you will be one of the reasons Tennessee will need to become more unaffordable and services will be cut to pay for your gold plated benefits long after you leave Metro.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. However I have 30 years of government experience and pride myself in working for the taxpayers and to provide the most efficient and effective government. Unfortunately what I’ve seen here in Nashville is not even close.

    • Zulfat Suara on September 1, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I did address the impact by talking about the reduction in the pool and the impact on the city. It was never from a greedy or selfish standpoint. After having said that, I appreciate your comments and will take it into consideration as we vote tonight.

  2. Charlotte Hunter on September 1, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    I only have a problem with Lifetime insurance!

    • Zulfat Suara on September 1, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment

  3. Greg zaggy on September 2, 2020 at 1:43 am

    I think your math might be off
    What is the premium of the lifetime people, excluding the current active people. Break out that number. Take off 50 percent. That number should be more. It is not the difference of 800k and 1.2.

    Plus premium increase year over year. Next year should be more

    why are people over 65 accepted on the plan. They should be on Medicare.

    Why is the city paying for spousal coverage. Employer’s don’t pay premium for spousal or kids

    I would say yes the council can come up with a 1 million or more saving but who wants to cut their own salary so this will never pass


  4. Greg Giles on September 2, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    I appreciate your taking the time to offer this explanation. It does not change the fact that an elected body lavishing such lucrative benefits upon themselves is simply wrong. Also, your estimate of this saving only 400K is wrong. The number of retired council persons should stabilize at somewhere around 140. At current rates, each retired council person would cost the taxpayer roughly $12,000. Add in a spouse and you can double that. And rates are only going to go up–do the math.

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