There's Strength in Numbers!
Commissioners received a rare treat at Monday's, Sept. 10th meeting, a full house of concerned county employees. At standing room capacity, employees expressed their displeasure with Commissioner Nancy Marcus proposal to increase health insurance cost.
At a Dec. 2006 Budget meeting, Tracy Blair Finance Director, shared insurance information about the county’s match for all medical, life and dental insurance benefits. She said that there was a significant savings Big Pot resulting in a $600,000 savings to the County fund Balance.
Supporters and employees wore NO badges with a number showing how many others would be affected by an increase to their health insurance. Judicial commissioner Cissy Chapman spoke about several issues as the employees stood in solidarity. Tim Schilling, foreman with the highway department stood by her side. Ms. Chapman read from a list of concerns and suggestions. She was followed by Judge Bill Russell who spoke about the county tax base and equitable treatment of county employees.
Commissioner Earlena Maples made several comments including one about a 3% pay raise to all county employees; this was met with some doubt and jeers. It sounds like some employees did not receive their pay raise. Commissioners should investigate why some county employees did not receive the 3% pay raise voted by commission. Buck passing is unacceptable.Click: phantom-pay
After several confusing amendments and motions,Commissioner Nancy Marcus made a motion to accept the recommendation of the Budget Committee to increase health insurance cost to employees. The motion failed by a 6 to 4 margin. This is a dead issue for the time being but don't expect this matter to go away.
Yes: Nancy Marcus, Don Miller, Bob Franke, Shirley Reno
No: Wayne Gardin, David Meers, Earlena Maples, Roy Bledsoe, Chris Park, Harold Duff.
Budget Committee Makes Recommendation
Bypasses Salary & Benefit Committee
Employee Air Concerns at Aug. 20th Workshop. Don't Air Dirty Laundry!
The Budget Committee thought that they would bring employee health insurance more in line with other counties so they decided to take action. This recommendation then went to the commission workshop. The Budget Committee is comprised of Budget Chairman Mayor Doyle Arp, and commissioners Nancy Marcus, Bob Franke, Don Miller and Chris Park.
The proposed health insurance change was not listed on the Aug. 20th commission workshop agenda. Its hard to seek input from residents or employees on matters, which affect them if county officials conduct business in this manner.
Several years ago, workshop formats were changed to promote informal discussion between county commissioners and citizens, but this meeting was anything but friendly or hospitable. In my opinion, the mayor was rude to several ladies that tried to speak.
A 30-year employee spoke about receiving a 1% pay raise and commented how commissioners had voted themselves a pay increase, which went from $6000 to $7440. She was concerned that an increase to her insurance premiums would cancel her "piddly" 1% salary raise. Mayor Arp seemed annoyed; we’re here to talk about insurance not “dirty laundry.” Commissioners voted a 3% pay raise for all county employees but judging from the number of grumblings, it's questionable as to how many others were shortchanged of their 3% pay raise.
Another employee shared her concerns that employees were not given the opportunity to participate. Click wage
In June 2005, commissioners approved a Resolution (PDF) creating and establishing the Salary & Benefit Committee, which was specifically tasked with addressing wages and salaries, benefits and insurance issues.
Any vacancies on this Committee should be filled and approved by Commission. This Committee should reconvene and meet publicly in accordance to the Sunshine Law. Citizens and employees have a right to know how government is proceeding. Evening meetings could offer more participation by employees and public. When the public and employees feel shut out of the process, this leads to mistrust and discord.
Insurance increase leads to other Problems!
In early Aug. 2006, then insurance consultant Jim Condra spoke before the Budget Committee. He said that costs were tied to the number of insurance claims. He also spoke about wellness and other health programs to keep insurance costs in check. To my recollection he did not speak about an increase at that meeting.
But at Aug. 2007 workshop, Commissioner Marcus commented that health insurance increased by fourteen percent (14%) and that employees should help pay 2% of that increase! Didn't commissioners vote to switch insurance agents (consultants) months back so the county could save money?
Nepotism Policy & Civil Service Needed!
Disparity in pay should concern all taxpayers because inequity and questionable work place practices create a poor working environment, problems, complaints and costly lawsuits. The days of hiring relatives and politically connected friends of the good ol boys should end with the adoption of a comprehensive Nepotism Policy, annual evaluations, and pay parity and Civil Service. The Open Records Act (public records) give us the freedom to hold our officials accountable when spending our taxpayer monies and an opportunity to look at the facts! The Open Meetings Law enables the public to participate in open government and Sunshine.
Good Stewards or Porkbusters?
Are commissioners being good Stewards of all taxpayer dollars as they purport? Why do they want us to think that they are serious about saving money and trimming expenses on the employee health insurance, when these same commissioners voted:
Click: Budgets (PDF) (County Commission, County Mayor & Legal-FY 07-08 last column)
To view other Budgets, please visit http://www.loudoncounty-tn.gov:80/