County raises undecided



February 20, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Allen County employees  should know next week how much of a raise in wages they will receive.
Commissioner Tom Williams proposed Tuesday to give a 2 percent increase to compensate for cost of living and permit department heads latitude to award up to 3 percent merit raises.
When Williams’ motion drew no second, Dick Works, commission chairman, suggested consideration be tabled; Williams and Jim Talkington agreed.
Later, discussion was rekindled.
After noting the federal COLA figure for the year was 1.7 percent, Williams proposed that be given, along with merit raises of up to 3 percent.
Talkington, after briefly mulling over numbers from a 2011 audit, was hesitant, which prompted accord again to table the issue.
On Feb. 12 department heads asked that COLA raises of 3 percent be given to all employees and another 2 percent be made available for merit raises.
Sheriff Bryan Murphy, who fleshed out the proposal, reasoned that a cost-of-living increase of 3 percent — 1.3 percent above federal determination — was justified because employees this year 2011 and 2012 this year lost 2 percent of take-home pay when the Federal Insurance Contributions Act rate was restored to 8.2 percent. It was reduced to 6.2 percent in 2011 in an effort to stimulate the economy.
FICA revenue funds Social Security and Medicare.
Commissioners at meeting’s end seemed set on sticking with the 1.7 percent COLA figure, and, if Williams’ thoughts are indicative, may offer merit pay that will push the total near 5 percent.
In his motion, Williams also embraced a proposal made by Bill King, director of Public Works, to increase the number of personal days — days off with pay — given employees, with the number determined by tenure. Now, employees get two personal days a year.
Department heads said a week ago that they were confident their budgets would stand raises of up to 5 percent. In fact, they figured budgets last July with raises in that range included.
Last year all employees were given cost-of-living raises of 3.6 percent, which came on the heels of two years with wages frozen. In 2009 employees were given raises of 20 cents per hour if they earned over $10 an hour, 25 cents if under that threshold. Also, they received merit pay of up to 30 cents an hour.
Department heads decide merit pay on the basis of individual evaluations.
In 2008 hourly employees received 2 percent raises across the board.

COMMISSIONERS heard three proposals having to do with health insurance, which will be renewed at the end of next month.
BMI and Harrington Health, which manage Allen County’s self-funded plan, representatives of Bukaty Company, Kansas City, and Dave Dillon, with Blue Cross Blue Shield, made presentations.
Commissioners said they preferred to remain with a self-funded plan, which this year required monthly premiums — which the county pays — of $731 for an individual. No employees include spouses or families on the county plan.

IN OTHER business:
— Commissioners approved a payment of $1,162,306 to Murry Company, the new hospital’s prime contractor. County Counselor Alan Weber said about $6.7 remained on the contract, meaning construction was at about the two-thirds point.
— King said his crews were prepared, with equipment and ice-melting materials, to deal with however bad the winter storm is that’s scheduled to arrive today and continue into Thursday.

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