Sunday, November 06, 2011

Absent City Workers Heard Anyway

San Angelo City Manager Harold Dominguez devised a net-less tight rope for city workers on his Employee insurance Review Committee.  They had but one thin line to walk, given City Council's secret charge to spend no new money on health insurance.

The committee received this charge in early 2011, the public not until a June City Council meeting.  "No new money" was reinforced in summer budget meetings, despite concerns by members of the public. 

Early retirees, the ongoing after thought of this council, were added in September to evaluate bids.  This group suffered greatly from Council's December 2010 decision to pass draconian premium increases to employee/retiree dependents.  Nearly 200 people fell from the rolls of the insured, a savings of nearly $200,000 for 2011.

Harold thought he'd boxed the committee in enough to where he could delegate any employee/retiree ill will to them, while claiming credit for budget wins.  Not so.  Steve Wilson showed employees wouldn't take the latest "crap sandwich" from this council lying down.  In return for over 700 employees and retirees having to find new primary care doctors and specialists, the committee strongly requested council give the $483,000 savings (above "no new money") back to employees and retirees:

1.  Reduce premiums for employees and retirees low plan back to zero
2.  Equalize dependent coverage between employees and retirees
3.  Reduce dependent premiums 

Addressing Mayor New's concern for a rainy day fund, Wilson suggested ERRP funds could serve that role.  Harold's secret slush fund of federal money is now in the public eye, The City received $330,000 in ERRP funds and has another $150,000 on the way.

One might expect large numbers of employees at such a meeting.  Making over 700 workers switch doctors seems as important as the city employee health clinic, which had standing room only in 2010.  Why the no shows?

Employees were informed one full work day before that council would address the issue.  Anyone wishing to attend was required to take vacation time. I'd guess Harold issued an edict for managers not to approve such requests, but maybe he's not that evil.

Kudos to Harold's Employee Insurance Review Committee for not swallowing all the castor oil.  It was subtle, but I appreciate spitting some of it back in their face.

A big razzy to elected leaders for the ongoing torture inflicted on city workers and retirees.  When HR staff pass out Medicaid and CHIP applications to workers, something's terribly wrong.

Especially when that Council has over $1 million in health insurance savings to use, over $500,000 of that in cash.

Update 11-7-11:  City kicks retired 73 year old firefighter

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