OC Employee Benefits and Commissioners Free HC for Life?
Note: A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum and I was not able to attend and read this letter to the BoCC.
Tonight the BoCC will address the looming costs of it’s benefits and compensation packages that in comparison to private industry, as well as the current healthcare bill is extremely generous. The current benefit packages offered by Orange County are not self sustainable for future growth and vitality. Fortunately everyone understands the tenuous position this places us in and tonight the County Manager and the BoCC are attempting to address these increasing liabilities. There is a change being proposed to mitigate some of the costs by changing the employment criteria from 10 years to 20 years to be eligible for retirement benefits. I’m pleased the Manger and the Board have sought to curtail costs and ensure responsible spending of our tax dollars, however, please consider there are some interesting highlights of this proposed action and of the existing plan itself.
First, in the new plan the dramatic increase of doubling employment requirement from 10 years to 20 may be conceived by employees as unfair and excessive. This is not a moral booster to new hires. The County is currently benefiting from a down economy when there are fewer options for employment opportunities. Realistically however, many could look for new opportunities as the economy recovers leaving gaps in our county roster that will be costly to fill. In speaking to a board member of the North Carolina Business Group on Health, there are a number of structural changes that could be made to save the county and the tax payers money and at the same time reduce present and future liabilities that will be better received by current and future employees and not partition them as drastically in terms of their benefit package
Another interesting feature of the old and new plan is the provision for health benefits to part time employees who are receiving the same benefits as full time employees. This doubles the cost to the county and exceeds the requirements set forth in Obamacare. (if deemed constitutional at the time of this reading( it was as a Tax)). This is very generous feature that must be paid for by the county and thus the taxpayer.
The last and personally most interesting feature of both the new and old plan is the exclusion of County Commissioners from the same requirements. Currently the Commissioners may work one day to receive benefits for life much like the US Congress and this is not slated to change. This is a rich feature for any company much less a government in any economy.
The Commissioners should really address this issue tonight. The BoCC should at minimum consider adopting the new employment eligibility standard offered to the county employees for themselves and grandfather in only those members no longer on the board.
Serving the citizens in the capacity of a representative should not come with a parachute. To be able to vote on major changes to any county employee’s benefit package and not address the comfortable security in which the voting members of the Board are wrapped in is a considerable conflict of interest as well as unconscionable to both the employees of the County and the taxpayers harnessed to bear this cost.
The new rule passed with out a mention of the Commissioners Parachute. There was however great emphasis placed on the Generous Plan and how new hires who serve 20 years will enjoy this “significant benefit”, this “generous benefit”, this …“(one of) the best benefits packages out there…”
But no one touched the benefits package of the Commissioners themselves.
Commissioners Pkg Link (pg11-12)