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Aug 25, 2016 3:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Southampton Village Trustee Still Owes Money For Health Benefits

Former Southampton Village trustee Bonnie Cannon owes over $48,000 for health insurance benefits she received after departing her position as a trustee in 2012. PRESS FILE
Aug 30, 2016 3:34 PM

A former Southampton Village trustee says she is still struggling to see how she is at fault for continuing to receive benefits from the village after serving on the board for six years, even though officials should have cut them off.

Bonnie Cannon received medical coverage for more than two years after serving on the Village Board from 2006 to 2012, even though the benefits should have ended when she left office.

Employees who have worked for the village for at least five years and are 55 years old or older are entitled to receive free benefits for life after leaving village employment, according to village code. Ms. Cannon was only 48 when her last term ended as a trustee, on June 30, 2012.

She was notified in April that she is required to repay more than $48,000 to the village. So far, she has repaid only $100.

Ms. Cannon said she is “all for being a team player” but does not feel that she should be held liable for something village officials overlooked.

“I’m just trying to do the best I can,” Ms. Cannon said when asked about the payback agreement.

Over the two years that Ms. Cannon was mistakenly enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program, she received $48,571 in free medical benefits. Village officials said she was enrolled to receive the benefits when she served as a trustee but was not taken off the roster, nor was she given the option to temporarily keep her coverage under COBRA once she stopped serving as a trustee. Continuation under COBRA would have required her to pay the entirety of her monthly family premium, which totaled $1,714.19, plus a small administration fee.

Ms. Cannon was first made aware of the oversight in November 2014, when Village Administrator Stephen Funsch sent her a letter stating that the village would not cover her medical costs until she reached the age of 55. She then stopped receiving medical benefits from the village.

She was also notified in writing in April by Mayor Mark Epley that she was responsible for paying back the cost of the benefits she received from July 1, 2012 to November 30, 2014.

Ms. Cannon has acknowledged that she knew about the benefits, and used the medical coverage, believing she was receiving the insurance properly. When Ms. Cannon left office, nobody went over the options to continue the insurance with her, Mr. Epley said. “It just continued,” he said. “I’m surprised by it myself.”

Mr. Epley said he struggles with the idea of her having to pay back the full amount because it was as much the village’s fault as hers. Officials have told Ms. Cannon to just pay what she can, he said.

“She has a son in college and runs a day care,” he said. “There’s not a lot she can do. It’s one of these things that should never have happened.”

If Ms. Cannon does not pay the village back, Mr. Epley said officials would be forced to sue her.

“I would hope they wouldn’t,” said Ms. Cannon. “I’m basically trying to figure this out. I’m not trying to cause any trouble.”

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Didn't she retire from Verizon, still BH Day Care boss? Still has appointment with village?
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 25, 16 4:17 PM
Did you really expect a politician to do the right thing? The self righteous mouth pieces in this area are usually full of it. Pay it back Bonnie! Case closed
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 26, 16 7:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
She is currently the chair of the Southampton Town Housing Authority board of directors. Her term ends December 2018.
By rburger (82), Remsenburg on Aug 26, 16 10:32 AM
An administrative oversight by the Village of Southampton in no way effects Ms. Cannon's ability to Chair an organization. The Mayor admits the oversight and seems to be compassionate about coming up with a common solution, which I'm sure they will.
Due to erroneous complaints and malicious accusations in attempts to stop development, the Housing Authority has been vetted, inspected, audited, reviewed from every level of government agency oversight, and NO MATIERAL FINDINGS or ADMINISTRATIVE ...more
By CEHJR (34), Southampton on Aug 26, 16 1:22 PM
Seems to me they're both at fault. Village never terminated her enrollment...she continued to reap the bennies. Split it.
By foodwhiner (148), Southampton on Aug 26, 16 11:09 AM
Has been going on for a few years??? Not going to go away...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 26, 16 11:10 AM
How about making her pay half of what she owes? Half her fault and half the fault of the village. But she needs to pay or create a schedule of payments to make sure she eventually pays the $25K.
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Aug 26, 16 2:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Funny that the Chairman of the affordable housing dept doesn't see any problems with Mrs Cannon's actions. If you don't correct a mistake by the village and continually collect benefits you are Guilty and have bad reasoning. More BS
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 26, 16 9:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 28, 16 6:43 AM
What does "still struggling to find herself at fault" mean?

Is that like lying to avoid taking responsibility for stealing tax payer money?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 28, 16 6:43 AM
Working for 5 years and over 55 receive BENEFITS FOR LIFE???!!! That's worse than the Village screwing up and Bonnie scamming the taxpayers.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 28, 16 6:56 AM
The village needs to get there finances together.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 28, 16 12:10 PM
I thought TIm BIshop said healthcare would be free?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 29, 16 1:28 PM
I thought you can keep your own doctor
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 29, 16 5:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 30, 16 4:56 AM
Ms Cannon you have to pay back your dept,The Village is not able to forgive this dept,it is tax payors money,pay off what you can per month.....did you think you hit the jackpot,,free health care for life...you are a scam artist now it is time to pay back and the person in Village Hall who did not do the correct paperwork when you departed should be repremanded.Mt Mayor the buck stops with YOU.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Aug 30, 16 4:24 PM
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 1, 16 7:17 PM
Take her to court to recover the money. Admin afraid of bad press??? You have a administrator and a paid lawyer... Code enforcement could do it...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 20, 16 5:00 PM