Combined 100 Voice Choir Presents 'My Heart Longs for Christmas' :: Sunday, December 14 & Monday, December 15 at 7pm :: click here for more info!

- published 8/21 (Larry) old link: http://www1.cfnc.org/applications/NC_Community_College/apply.html?application_id=1527

Click for Franklin, North Carolina Forecast

News Greenwood: ‘Reduced productivity’ reason to slim benefits

As healthcare costs continue to rise across the state and nation, Town of Franklin Manager Sam Greenwood took time at Saturday’s annual retreat to explain to Aldermen the ailing state of affairs for town employee benefits. He proved to be the primary negotiator of this complicated topic as well as the chief mediator between the State and Town governments.

Many topics were discussed at the annual winter retreat for the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen, including possible cuts in the future for town employee benefits.As healthcare costs continue to rise across the state and nation, Town of Franklin Manager Sam Greenwood took time at Saturday’s annual retreat to explain to Aldermen the ailing state of affairs for town employee benefits. He proved to be the primary negotiator of this complicated topic as well as the chief mediator between the State and Town governments.

“It was the habit to give benefits because the town and county could put those benefits in an attractive package and relatively inexpensively,” Greenwood explained, briefing the board on the initial reasoning behind  government-paid benefits. He said that over the years these benefits have become “catastrophically” more expensive, but have proven to be an “excellent tool” in attracting workers.

The issue was discussed to give the town a “head start” on the matter of employee benefits, as legislators in Raleigh are also beginning to discuss the prospects of decreasing healthcare and retirement benefits for government employees.

Franklin currently pays $504.56 per month to cover all of an employee’s medical insurance premiums, which amounts to $6,054.72 per year. With 57 full-time employees on Franklin’s payroll, excluding Greenwood, $345,119.04 is paid annually by the town.

Greenwood stressed North Carolina is in good shape in the realm of healthcare costs, when compared to other states like New Jersey or Washington, who have notably shored up their retirement systems within the last year. He attributed high benefit costs in other states to the advent of labor unionization, and credited the low health costs in NC to its status as a right-to-work state.

There are several options for the Town to take, according to Greenwood, remarking that it was his intention to broach the subject in the interest of cost containment and fiscal responsibility. He added that changing the schedules or coverage plans for employees should only be done if absolutely necessary.

Of all the workers within the town’s employ, 42 are vested employees with at least five years of experience in their field. Greenwood, in sync with a notice by the UNC School of Government, cautioned Aldermen against reducing the benefits of vested employees or retirees in order to avoid lawsuits.

Alderman Joyce Handley concurred on behalf of retirees.

Sixteen workers currently within the employ of the town are considered unvested and could have their benefits reduced or restructured. Seven of those employees would become vested by 2012.

However, Greenwood stated that Franklin’s employee benefits are already lean. “The town has had for its employees, I think, an excellent health insurance benefit package, and I don’t think that it’s exorbitant,” he said.

The North Carolina General Assembly calls the shots for municipalities and county governments, Greenwood explained, which in this state are political subdivisions. He warned that any actions taken on the matter would be taken at the state level.

Greenwood cautioned Aldermen to wait until after an action has been taken by the state, be they legislative or judicial, before they implement any healthcare benefit changes.

Alderman Sissy Pattillo warned that the Town would have to “be cautious” in the process of reducing or restructuring employee benefits, so that it will not lose its edge as a potential employer.

“The town needs to be competitive in the hiring market, there’s no doubt about it,” replied Greenwood, adding that departmental heads would be given notices to distribute among Town workers. Ultimately, Greenwood said that in the pecking order of responsibility, the board is chiefly obligated to the taxpayers, and then to its employees.

Aside from insurance benefits being a budgetary concern, Greenwood explained that other town employment perks such as vacation or sick leaves can lower the standard of employee productivity, and become an indirect cost to the town.

“If you have it set up where an employee first starts to work, gets ten paid days of vacation, and by the time they come up to 30 years [of employment] they are up at 30 days paid vacation, what you are doing is you are building in a certain amount of reduced productivity for employees as a benefit,” he said, enunciating that the longer an employee works for the town, the less they have to work.

A result of reforming leave days would still hinder productivity in essence, as the Town would have to wait until such leave days were spent before the policy could go into effect. “You can’t confiscate time,” said Greenwood.





Share


Weekly updates in progress!

Grab your FREE copy of the
Macon County News
& Shopping Guide
on newsstands today

The Macon County News
holiday deadlines for
classifieds, display ads
& editorial copy:

– Friday, Dec. 26 for the
Tuesday, Dec. 30 issue

Note: MCN will NOT publish the week of Christmas!

Macon County News is now on:
Find the Macon County News on Facebook! and Find the Macon County News on twitter!
Facebook   Twitter