09/10/13 At the conclusion of the county budget hearings on Monday councilman John Benedict commented on the proposed 3% salary increase. He said, “The 3% raise right now is excessive. I would be comfortable at 2%.” Benedict explained his reasoning, “If employees had more skin in the game for their health insurance an increase would mean more to them.” He continued, “Everyone needs to pay something for their health insurance, not just $1 a year.” He proposed looking at the possibility of having county employees pay more toward their insurance benefit and allow a pay raise the following year to help cover the additional cost.
Benedict said, “I have no confidence in Obama Care. Everyone should have an interest when the costs go up and without skin in the game the increase isn’t a concern of theirs.”
County Auditor Penny Lukenbill said the commissioners had considered having employees pay a bigger portion of their insurance a couple of years age and decided against it. She also noted, “Making a change endangers our grandfathered status with the affordable care act.” Lukenbill said there is a limit of a 5% increase a year and on $1.00 that would only amount to a 5 cent increase per employee. In the General Fund insurance costs for employees is about $900,000. Projections say that with the Affordable Care Act by 2016 the cost will increase by 50% or even up to 100%.
Councilwoman Judy Stone said she would be willing to look at it while Benedict said, “This is no reflections on our employees.” He continued, “We just need clear information and the opportunity to look at our options.” Benedict even volunteered to chair a committee to look at the possibility.
Other council members voiced their thought on the salary increase.
President Matt Hassel said, “3% is pretty high for the economic situation right now. Things are not getting any cheaper. I’m OK with a 2% raise.”
Jon VanVactor agreed with the 2% increase as did Judy Stone, Don Morrison and Rex Gilliland.
Councilman Steve Harper said, “The cost difference is only $33,000 in the general fund between the 2% increase and the 3% increase. I’m in favor of the 3% raise.”
The Council approved a 2% increase for 2014. They also approved the request of the coroner to increase the call-out pay for certified deputies to $75 per call and the increase request of Clerk Julie Fox to raise the absentee voter board from $65 to $70.