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Raises recommended for full-time county employees

April 09, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Assistant Human Resources Director Dee Hawbaker recommended Tuesday that the county's full-time employees receive 2 percent raises, and that employees pay higher health care costs for the next fiscal year.

As a result, the county's approximately 630 full-time employees would not see much of a net pay raise for fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1. Hawbaker said the proposed pay raise and the proposed increase to heath care costs would nearly balance each other out.

The 2 percent pay raise would cost the county $519,785.

The pay raise recommendation was not part of a salary study presented to the County Commissioners last week by a Minnesota-based company. Hawbaker said the county would form a group to study the salary study's recommendations. That group's recommendations on whether to further increase employees' salaries will be made in the fall of 2003.

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Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said he didn't think the county could afford giving two raises because of budget constraints.

"I think one or the other probably could be approved, but I'm not so sure both of them could be," Wivell said.

Hawbaker said that an employee earning $20,124 a year would receive a 54-cent net raise per week, after the 2 percent pay raise and health insurance increase were factored in.

Acting on a recommendation from the county's benefits specialist, Hawbaker proposed that employee contributions to health insurance costs increase from 8.2 percent to 10 percent a year. The county is facing an 18.7 percent overall increase in health insurance costs.

An employee enrolled in family coverage in the county's point-of-service plan would pay $63.60 per month, up $24 over the current cost of $39.30 per month.

An employee receiving single coverage in the point of service plan would pay $22.45 per month, up $8.80 from the current cost of $13.65 per month.

The proposed increase would be a little lower for employees who receive HMO coverage. An employee receiving family coverage under the HMO plan would pay $34.36 per month, up $19.11 over the current cost of $15.25 per month.

An employee with single coverage would pay $12.19 per month, an increase of $7.86 over the current cost of $4.33 per month.

Dental and eye care insurance costs also would increase, according to county documents.

Wivell said he didn't think it was unreasonable for employees to pick up some of the health insurance increase the county faces.

"It's still a really good plan," he said.

In addition to the salary and health care proposals, Hawbaker recommended that the county switch from weekly to biweekly pay periods to save money and administrative labor. She also recommended that eight new county positions be created for fiscal year 2004, including three correctional officers at the Washington County Detention Center and an assistant chief position for the 911 Communications Center.

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