Source: Sherman Publications

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Twp. employees, officials get 3 percent raises
Board must still decide percentage for health care contributions

by CJ Carnacchio

September 26, 2012

Oxford Township employees will see a slight increase in their pay next year, however, there's a possibility they could also experience a slight increase in the amount they contribute toward their health insurance.

Last week, township officials voted 4-2 to increase all employees' pay by 3 percent for the 2013 fiscal year beginning Jan. 1. This decision came after a motion for a 3.5 percent pay raise failed in a 3-3 tie.

The raise also applies to the municipality's three full-time elected officials. The supervisor will see his annual salary increase from $62,872 to $64,758, while the clerk and treasurer's salaries will rise from $53,107 to $54,700.

Some of that pay raise could be eaten up if the township board decides to increase the amount township employees and the three officials are required to pay toward their health insurance premiums.

Currently, township employees and officials pay 5 percent. Trustee Mike Spisz wants their contribution to increase by 2.5 percent annually for the next two years, bringing their total contribution up to 7.5 percent in 2013 and 10 percent in 2014.

His motion to that effect failed in a 3-3 tie.

Officials will have to revisit the health insurance issue before the end of the year due to state law. A new state law, which took effect Jan. 1, gives local governments and school districts three options when it comes to funding health care benefits for elected officials and public employees.

The first is a "hard cap" under which local governing units and school districts cannot pay more than $5,500 annually in health care costs for an individual, $11,000 per year for a couple and $15,000 annually for a family.

Option two allows public employers to pay no more than 80 percent of the premiums for medical, optical and dental benefits. The other 20 percent or more would be paid by public employees and elected officials who receive medical coverage.

The third option allows local governments and school districts to exempt themselves for one year from the new law's requirements, if approved by a two-thirds vote of its governing body. In order to extend the exemption each year after that, a two-thirds vote of the governing body is required each time.

Last year, the township board voted to opt-out for 2012 as its employees and officials were already scheduled to pay 5 percent.

In the township board's case, in order to continue opting out, five out of the seven officials must vote in favor of it every year.

Treasurer Joe Ferrari made a motion to opt-out again for 2013, but it failed in a 3-3 tie. Spisz made it clear he would vote against any motion to opt-out unless it contained the contribution increases he proposed.

This year, the township will pay 95 percent of the $187,576 total to provide health care for 10 employees and officials. The employee/official contributions of that total amount to a combined $9,379.

The township's current monthly health insurance rates, which includes dental and vision coverage, are $602 for an individual, $1,444 for a couple and $1,805 for families.

Next year, the township will only have to cover nine people as a retired employee will no longer be included. The monthly rate for that retired employee is $2,156.