Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sheriff Sounds off on County's Proposed Health Care Changes

(re-printed from the Intelligencer...Margaret Gibbons reported this well enough that I need not comment)

Sheriff blasts moves to cut Montco benefits

Requiring Montgomery County government employees to pick up part of the tab for their health care benefits, freezing their salaries and instituting payless holidays could jeopardize public safety, according to county Sheriff John P. Durante.

"I will say for the record that these proposed changes in next year's budget will affect public safety in a big way," said Durante, an independently elected row officer, in a letter he fired off to the three county commissioners Tuesday.

"When an emergency occurs, we will no longer be able to reach personnel because they will be away working part-time jobs to pay for their benefits and to support their families," said Durante, adding that he is opposed to all three measures.

At least one commissioner, Republican Bruce L. Castor Jr., is inclined to agree with Durante.

"I think John is probably right," said Castor. "All employees on the lower pay scales likely will have to take second jobs and they might not be available if an emergency comes up and they are needed by the sheriff's office or the district attorney's office."

"I, personally, am reluctant to fiddle at all with health insurance," said Castor.

The commissioners are struggling to close a projected $53.5 million funding gap in 2010 without having to increase taxes.

They have already agreed to slow down the pace of spending for the county's popular municipal open space preservation grant program and terminated four middle managers in the parks and historical sites department.

Other belt-tightening measures under discussion are freezing salaries, not paying employees for seven of the 13 holidays they have and passing on the higher costs of health insurance to employees who previously did not have to pay for health insurance for themselves or their immediate family members.

No final decisions have been made on any of these proposals that impact county employees, the commissioners have repeatedly emphasized.

However, the commissioners have been deluged with e-mails from irate county employees after sending out a memo last week with projected health care insurance costs.

For example, employees earning under $30,000 would have to pay $15 from their biweekly paychecks next year for insurance for themselves. The cost would go up to $50 a paycheck for employees wanting health insurance for themselves and two or more family members.

This is also based on a new health insurance plan that provides less coverage and also requires higher co-payments.

"We shouldn't be paying for our uncontrolled spending with employee's blood," said Castor.

Instead, Castor said, the commissioners should terminate Democratic Commissioner Joseph M. Hoeffel's "high-paid cronies who were brought on board two years ago."

Also, the county should put the county's new economic development program, spearheaded by Hoeffel, on hold until the economy turns around, said Castor.

"Let's look at everything before we look to our employees," said Castor, who is the odd man out in the bipartisan government controlled by Republican Commissioner Chairman James R. Matthews and Hoeffel.

The newspaper could not reach Hoeffel for this story.


Anonymous said...

Not to Speak for you BIll but I bet you would take a county job and be willing to make a small contribution to your benefits.!!
Governments need to be run more like a business.Which what Comm Matthews is doing. He is a businessman not a lawyer who is use to using tax payer dollars for everything!!

Taxpayers whom work for private companies and make the same if not less than county counter parts, normally pay 25% of their health benefits IF THEY GET THEM at all.

Everyone and that means everyone needs to tighten their belt and if contributing a small amount to ones benefits is what needs to be done then that is a small price to pay. The Shieff's example is over dramatic and is politically motivated as usual. The Gravy train is stopping and they dont want to get off. Get with the rest of us and be grateful you have job a GOOD JOB with Great Benefits that should be contributed to pay the employee. Just Peachy!

Bill Shaw said...

I'm sorry you haven't done any research into the surrounding counties and their pay scale vs. benefits contributions...if you did, you'd see that Montgomery County employees have historically taken smaller salaries as a trade off for great benefits.

With the salary freeze looming and the increase in benefits, a county job, which used to be a great job, is now just like any other company that has overspent and is now making the employees pay the price.

Like Durante said, some now will have to moonlight to make up the difference, and will not be available, if an emergency arises, also something you failed to mention in your comment.

this is all a result of the Hoeffel/Matthews alliance and together, they are spending like crazy, not worrying about where the funding is coming from.

A good employer always takes it to the employees last, not first. A good employer cuts his up front costs, and looks out for his bread and butter, the people who produce for them.

Shame on Hoeffel and Matthews for creating this mess, and shame on them for deciding that the employees should shoulder the burden of their bad decisions.

Anonymous said...

Remember who pays for theese benefits, but the taxpayer. When the average taxpayer has to pay for benefits, guess what they don't really care that county employees have to no pay a small portion. Durante crying about his employees benefits is laughable. Again if theese employees don't like the proposed deal they can always quit, then they can see how the other half deal with there health care situation.

Bill Shaw said...

you're an unfeeling bastard, Jimbo.

Anonymous said...

No he is not Bill You are..

and I did do my research and I don't care what their pay scale is they should make a small contribution and like it. Just Peachy

Anonymous said...

whoever made the taxpayer comment and if they don't like QUIT is RIGHT...... Carry on ! You are wrong Bill AGAIN and you are an unfeeling Bastard not Commisioner Matthew A Taxpayer and hardworker!

Bill Shaw said...

Glad you read my blog, Jim...

Anonymous said...

yeah right he(JIM) would not waste his time to respond to you! KLM

Obama Countdown