PARKERSBURG - Stating that it would be neither fair nor prudent, members of the Personnel Committee took no action on the city's health insurance or longevity pay.
Committee chairman Tom Joyce opened Tuesday's meeting stating it was not his intent for action to be taken.
"I felt this would be an item we would need to look at between now and the next budget cycle," Joyce said.
Joyce noted open enrollment for employee health insurance benefits does not occur until April.
"At this point I think the bulk of the work falls back on the administration and we hammer it out in the budgetary process."
The committee met in response to the city's $2.5 million projected deficit to review potential budgets cuts.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Personnel Committee member John Rockhold discusses employee health insurance costs Tuesday as committee member Nancy Wilcox, council member Jim Reed (rear) and city employees listen.
The committee received information pertaining to the health insurance costs and longevity, but took no action. Joyce pledged the matters would be discussed again - likely at the Committee of the Whole meeting set for the end of the month.
Joyce said he would like the administration to look at a stepped-insurance premium plan, where higher-paid employees would pay higher insurance rates.
Employees presently pay 10 to 15 percent of their insurance premiums.
- The Parkersburg City Council Personnel Committee received information about health insurance costs and longevity pay Tuesday night.
- No action was taken on either topic.
- The meeting was in response to the city's $2.5 million projected deficit to review potential budget cuts.
Finance Director Doug Life said the city pays approximately $209,000 a month for employee health insurance; about $180,000 for active employees and $60,000 for retirees.
The city also pays out a stipend to a number of civilian employees to "equalize insurance costs."
Life said doubling employee health insurance costs - which he called a radical change - would save the city an additional $200,000-$240,000 a year.
"It would be unfair and imprudent to make changes right now because employees can't change their plan right now," Joyce said.
The committee also took no action on longevity.
Life said longevity pay (30 cents an hour) is awarded to employees on the anniversary date of their hirer. He said some employees have received longevity pay for this year, while others have not.
Joyce said there might be legal issues if longevity pay was halted immediately.
Eliminating longevity pay would save the city $165,000 a year, according to Life.
"We are talking about $365,000 out of two very radical changes," Personnel Committee member John Rockhold said, noting it was a "small portion" of the projected deficit.
Officials said longevity has been paid to city police and firefighters since the 1950s. Civilian employees have been receiving longevity pay since the 1980s.
Rockhold said it was important to note why the city instituted the insurance and longevity measures in the first place.
"It was best reflected as the city's desire to provide and care for the employees."
Joyce noted it is a way for officials to skirt doling out raises in budgets, since it was built in.
After the meeting, which was attended by a number of city employees, including all the department heads, Joyce said the matters will be discussed again. He stressed the meeting was not simply window dressing for the following council meeting, during which a proposed $3 a week user fee would be discussed.
"We will have to look at this whether we want to or not," he said.
Joyce said many people want government to be run like a business and that means making business-like decisions.
"Citizens are going to lose faith in us as leaders if we don't make business-like decisions," he said.