September 4, 2013


City lifts hiring freeze for DPW position

8 percent health insurance increase expected for city workers next year

Staff Reporter

The city Common Council lifted a hiring freeze Tuesday to fill a Department of Public Works position and heard a presentation on employee health care cost increases.
The DPW will promote from within to fill a maintenance supervisor position at the Water Department, said DPW Superintendent Chris Bistocchi. The city will not be hiring a new employee.
Aldermen Julie Bird (D-1st Ward) and Carlos Ferrer (D-6th Ward) voted against lifting the hiring freeze and approving the promotion. Bird declared her opposition as “fair is fair,” referring to the council voting against lifting the hiring freeze for the fire department at the Aug. 6 and 20 council meetings.
The fire department was requesting an internal promotion to fill a vacancy created by a retirement and hiring a volunteer firefighter into the paid, full-time position created by the promotion. The council asked that Chief Charles Glover and the fire department wait until after the budget process to present plans to hire a new employee.
The city’s 2014 health benefits premiums were also discussed, with an 8 percent increase that will fall in line with the national average, according to Finance and Administration Director Mack Cook. Information pertaining to the increase was presented Tuesday to the Common Council for its consideration.
The increase was recommended by the Greater Tompkins County Health Consortium, which the city joined last year. A decision on approving the increase will be at the Sept. 17 council meeting.
The 8 percent increase was attributed to a number of factors, including two that are fees tied to the Affordable Care Act. The primary increase is medical and prescription claims at 4.1 percent with stop loss insurance at 1.9 percent.
The two ACA fees, one for research on cost containment and another on temporary reinstatement of the uninsured, levy a 1.5 percent increase. The consortium allowed the city to avoid another 2 percent increase through the ACA that will be affecting private businesses.
Health care premiums for singles on the city’s plan is $738.94 in 2014, up from $684.20 in 2013. Family premiums increase from $1,483 to $1,601.64. Ninety three percent of premium dollars have gone toward medical claims.
The city’s health insurance contribution will grow by $280,112, with $44,928 of that increase covered by employee contributions. The remaining balance of the increase will be absorbed by the city.
About half of the city’s health insurance is paid to retirees, Cook said.


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