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2 furlough days win panel's OK

City employees' health insurance costs also to rise

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City of Augusta employees can look for two furlough days before the end of the year and higher health insurance premiums in 2011.

An Augusta Commission committee approved two furlough days for city employees Monday. Elected officials can decide whether they want to participate and take the unpaid leave.

If approved by the full commission, Nov. 24, the day before the beginning of Thanksgiving holidays, and Dec. 22, the day before the Christmas holidays begin, will be unpaid furlough days for most employees. Most government operations will close on those days.

Employees in operations that require 24-hour-a-day service, such as law enforcement and fire service, will schedule time off during November and December.

City Administrator Fred Russell recommended a 3.5 percent temporary across-the-board pay cut the last two months of the year, which will spread the reduction from the furlough days over five pay periods instead of two.

"We balanced the 2010 budget with four furlough days," Russell said. "Due to economic conditions, we've recommended and programmed (those furlough days) in to run at the end of the year, so that we could look at the budget and see how we were doing. We did fairly well. We were able to eliminate two of those, but because we didn't get money from Georgia Power -- the franchise fee was down about $1.7 million we didn't anticipate -- we decided to go ahead and recommend they take the last two furlough days."

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said that in light of the city's financial situation two furlough days is not bad. "This is the first time we've had to impose any furlough days," he said. "When we passed the budget, we anticipated four, and we've managed to reduce it to only two."

Health insurance premiums for coverage for an individual will increase to $47.08 from $40.33 per pay period. Premiums for the employee and one dependent will increase to $97.49 from $80.65, and premiums for family coverage will increase to $147.73 from $120.98.

"The insurance is probably better than we anticipated," Russell said. "We initially thought based on our usage last year the increase was going to be a whole lot higher than that. We were able to negotiate with Blue Cross/Blue Shield to lower it a little bit more. Just this morning they agreed to lower it to 19.75 percent, which is fairly good considering we haven't had increases the past two years."

The government will still pay 77.5 percent of premiums and the employee 22.5 percent. Some commissioners had wanted to increase the amount employees paid, but under the new federal health care law, any changes to the plan would cause the city to lose its grandfathered status and be penalized with higher costs.

Brigham said he questions whether the health care law applies to governments as it does to corporations and businesses.

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 10/12/10 - 02:14 am
0
0

Since the DDA is convinced

Since the DDA is convinced downtown has a parking problem, do you think they will consider a proposal to enforce the two-hour parking limit and collect ticket money to prevent furloughs and pay cuts?

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/12/10 - 03:19 am
0
0

Hope and change!!!

Hope and change!!!

kareyclark
0
Points
kareyclark 10/12/10 - 03:52 am
0
0

There wouldn't have to be any

There wouldn't have to be any furloughs by getting rid of City Administrator Fred Russell, as he can't even manage the amount of toilet paper he uses. Next, stop all the perks the commissioners get, i.e. cars, gas, phones, etc. Finally, stop wasting money on the many not needed and worthless projects the commissioners dream up, especially the wasted money used to pay for studies to see if the project(s) are needed.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 10/12/10 - 06:58 am
0
0

Happy holidays to city

Unpublished

Happy holidays to city employees; a pay cut via furloughs and and a 20% hike in insurance premiums.

harry cannon
0
Points
harry cannon 10/12/10 - 07:16 am
0
0

Well we still have a job.

Well we still have a job. Will the city administrators get a pay cut too ? If not, why not ?

aughate
0
Points
aughate 10/12/10 - 08:42 am
0
0

ok this is nothing. the

ok this is nothing. the board has 8 furloughs and a hike in insurance that is nowhere near what the city pays. i mean come on city employees, that's nothing to complain about. be happy.

mary dits
2
Points
mary dits 10/12/10 - 09:07 am
0
0

did deke take furlough days

did deke take furlough days to train for the ironman or play lou holtz's assistant coach in sandra bullock's movie? our mayor is an awesome mayor (who loves charity).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmQYOdN_MWQ

true2self
0
Points
true2self 10/12/10 - 09:20 am
0
0

This is just ridiculous.

This is just ridiculous. Officers already do not get paid enough as it is, so lets make them pay MORE for insurance for their family and lets take two days away from them that they could be getting paid for. Why can't the higher paid administrators take a day here or there and make up for the budget? That would be too easy I guess. Let's hurt the people who are out there working hard everyday just trying to make ends meet...

Emerydan
9
Points
Emerydan 10/12/10 - 09:51 am
0
0

So Augusta is going to

So Augusta is going to furlough police during one of the worse crime waves in recent memory??? Boy that's real smart. I can understand the need to furlough some of the non essential paper pushers, but NOT police. This is just ridiculous. Deke.. can you speak up on this?

flipa
35
Points
flipa 10/12/10 - 10:08 am
0
0

True, Emery; I agree. This

True, Emery; I agree. This crime wave is just getting started. Watch my new show Crime Reports and Rewards and you'll see why. You could make up to 5 mil while you're at it. If administrators don't administrate well enough to pay their people THEY should be furloughed, not the people. Augusta OWNS OVER 1 BILLION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ in assets. Why don’t we sell some of these assets that they don't even use and Pay everybody and give the property tax payers a break? Maybe if when we do pay our property taxes to the Tax collector the money could actually make it to some city employees instead of being left in a wide open safe and disappear after it not being loaded on the Brinks truck as per law in most counties for a week before it disappeared. Steven Kendrick should file for the insurance on the missing money but he can’t cause they would gig him for not letting the brinks truck pick up the money the week before it disappeared. That money could have prevented some furloughs. There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for the tax users. All the accountability is loaded on to the back of the tax earners and tax payers. This is UNFAIR and UNWISE. We are being led by UNFAIR and UNWISE people but THEY are NOT being FURLOUGHED are they?

Brad Owens
3675
Points
Brad Owens 10/12/10 - 10:11 am
0
0

Let them eat cake. Brad

Let them eat cake.

Brad

mary dits
2
Points
mary dits 10/12/10 - 10:20 am
0
0

dear mr. mayor/charity deke.

dear mr. mayor/charity deke. i have the bomb idea to save us all! sell your vacay house (it's in beaufort, south carolina, anyway) and pay the cops and teachers. augusta could really use it and we all know how you love charity more than personal gain. that's $900,000 just sitting around that could really help us. you're welcome. (p.s. drop tim moses as campaign chair and hire me. i really want to run your campaign and i think i understand you better than mr. moses does. do you realize he's still asking for money on facebook for the campaign after your riveting speech about sending money to charity instead? call me.)

Brad Owens
3675
Points
Brad Owens 10/12/10 - 10:33 am
0
0

Emerydan, Asking His Worship,

Emerydan,

Asking His Worship, Deke "The Meek" Copenhaver, to take a stand on this issue is a waste of breath. He aviods things like this like at all costs, puls he is a VERY busy man.

He was so busy as of late that he forgot to file his campaign contribution disclosure (he must have been busy raising money for the Golden Harvest Food Bank or something and was not there to sign) but that is OK. It really doesn't matter anyway does it? I mean he doesn't care about money, he hates money, most rich people I know hate money..

It is just VULGAR to talk about money when you are rich...

Brad Owens
3675
Points
Brad Owens 10/12/10 - 11:39 am
0
0

Mary, You would be a good

Mary,

You would be a good campaign chairlady but Deke doesn't care for people who are too "flashy"...you know how humble he is.. so you might need to wear a bonnet or put your hair in a bun...

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 10/12/10 - 11:51 am
0
0

Not only are they raising

Not only are they raising insurance but it will now be taxed. The premium was taken before tax, this means even less in the check and it is not great insurance but better than nothing. Emergency room co- pay is $300, $50 for specialist. Can not go to drs in SC. it is an HMO.

lilone1
0
Points
lilone1 10/12/10 - 12:09 pm
0
0

I think the city

I think the city commissioners need a few furlough days a year also. Taking away from emergency crews is dangerous. Lets see if someone in their family needs a police officer or ambulance or fire fighter to help them and they don't get one and there is a fatallity for them and see how they feel. How can these emergency personnel help when they now will have this stress on them as to where their money is going to come from for their bills and houses.I say whats good for the emergency crews is good for the city council also. Give up a few of your furlough days to help the economy. Also thanks for our childrens christmas and thanksgiving this year. I hope your has a good one while we have to explaine why ours don't have one. Don't choke on your turkey. Don't ask the fire department to be in the parades, Let Deke WALK santa down the road. You better pray that your family doesn't need any emergency assistant.Screw your families they don't mean anything to us anymore. one for all and all for one.........

Emerydan
9
Points
Emerydan 10/12/10 - 01:40 pm
0
0

Brad: in the case of Augusta:

Brad: in the case of Augusta: "Let them eat imitation pimento cheese spread."

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/12/10 - 02:20 pm
0
0

well, at least we got us a

well, at least we got us a tax cut out of it. haw haw haw.

truthsetmfree
70
Points
truthsetmfree 10/12/10 - 03:39 pm
0
0

The City has and

The City has and administrator (Fred Flinstone) and three deputy administrators, all of whom make over $100,000 a year. Fire them and let the Mayor administer the government. Currently he has about as much responsibilty as the queen of England..........Cut commissioners pay for one month and halt thier gas allowance for a month. That should save a lot of money....

Emerydan
9
Points
Emerydan 10/12/10 - 03:53 pm
0
0

Mr Deke can't make a decision

Mr Deke can't make a decision to save his life.. and you would trust the daily running of the government to him? As much as I dislike Fred Flinstone's management style..atleast he HAS a management style..Deke has NO management style whatsoever... I guess you can call it the go run and hide management style when anything controversial happens... and Find me a TV camera management style whenever there is something good that he wants to take credit for.

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 10/12/10 - 05:14 pm
0
0

The bosses won't lose

The bosses won't lose anything, they have contracts! They are going to get theirs. The 8, 9 & 10 dollar employees are the ones that are going to feel the pain! We are barely making it day to day. Groceries prices are going up, as are utilities and gas. How are we going to take care of our families? Yes I am glad to have a job don’t get me wrong but come on some of us are barely making above minimum wage. With all this taken out of our checks I bet we make a whole lot less than minimum.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 10/12/10 - 05:44 pm
0
0

Wish commissioners would Wake

Wish commissioners would Wake Up! This is going to hurt city employees very bad. Its funny how some departments are not going to have to abide by this. Amazing Ronnie Strength must really run the city of Augusta. While his deputy's get out of this other 24/7 city employees in other departments will have to suffer. Amazing how those people are not thought of until you need them and they are the ones you hurt most in the pockets. Insurance well this is a sick joke a new bid package needs top go out and this time more competition needs to be allowed so that the rates can be lowered and maybe even make the benefits better currently the city and its employees are not getting anything really for the money they both pay. Augusta city employee insurance is tragic and is barelly better than nothing at all.

lilone1
0
Points
lilone1 10/12/10 - 05:51 pm
0
0

Where is our union!!!!!! we

Where is our union!!!!!! we need you to step up for us instead of taking our money each month. Everyone needs to be present at the next commissioners meeting and voice their opinions on the furlough days and let them know what they are taking away from our families. Maybe we need to think pf drug test for the welfare and cut their money. Do you think we will qualify for food stamps and free medical NO. So tell us where the money will be going. Also why do we need a parking garage downtown and who will be securing it. What will the families be getting from the county commissioners for thanksgiving and christmas this year?
What do we tell our children? I hope you and your family can rest after putting these people through more stress and out of homes and food.

vickidu52
15
Points
vickidu52 10/13/10 - 10:41 am
0
0

Here's money in the pocket.

Here's money in the pocket. Don't send the fire engines out for every stupid EMS call where somebody is sitting there saying, "I can't breathe". The ambulances are getting it anyway! Every time that engine leaves a non-fire call, it's a ton of fuel down the drain. And take one day a week and make those who drive company cars around, use their own vehicle and pay for their own gas for a day. There's a solution to a lot of money down the drain. No, I'm not a firefighter so don't think I'm a lazy person sitting around the station eating and watching TV for funds. Just thinking about all the stupid calls they do get sent on that cost so much. They fill those tanks with fuel every day, lots of diesel and that's very expensive. Hmmm and with the time they are not riding the roads on those stupid calls, have them walking a small track outside for x amount of minutes and a little fitness routine that they must sign off on and see if that helps some of the health issues which in turn will lower injury and comp time etc etc.

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