Council Approves Compensation Package Changes

OCEAN CITY — The City
Council voted unanimously to trim the benefits package offered to new
employees, thus saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process to the
town’s annual bottom line.

As a result of the
second part of Human Resources Director Wayne Evans’ salary and benefits study,
the council moved to trim a day off paid holidays, raise the employee
contribution for medical coverage by 5 percent and cut the fifth week of paid
vacation for 20-year-plus employees, in addition to several other moves that
seemed to appease the outspoken desires of both Councilmen Jim Hall and Joe
Hall, who had been calling for a change to the town’s salary and benefit
structure for new hires for months.

“I’ve been saying that
our payroll is out of whack, and I’ll say it again, our payroll is so far out
of whack,” said Jim Hall. “I am glad that some good recommendations were
brought, and I think we need to move on those now, and then revisit the changes
to the salary structure sometime in the near future. Again, this is just for
new hires, not current employees.”

Council quickly ruled to
alter the benefits packages for new hires, but they wanted more time to
consider and debate the reported 2.5-percent decrease in salaries for new
hires. 

“Just because someone is
a truck driver, and a good one at that, under our pay plan as a whole, he keeps
moving up with COLA’s and step increases,” said Jim Hall. “I don’t think that a
truck driver needs to be making the kind of money at the end of 25 years that
we are paying right now.”

Councilman Joe Hall
seemed to agree saying that “a truck driver should be worth what a truck driver
is worth”, but went on to claim that he believes the pay increases that employees
accrue over the course of a career are too high as well.

“I still feel that the
salaries being paid across the board are too high at the end of a person’s
career in the town of Ocean City,” said Joe Hall. “I just believe that it’s
higher than what the market can bear for each of those jobs.”

Evans recommended
trimming the paid holidays for town employees from 11 to 10, noting that the
state does not recognize the day after Christmas as a holiday, thus hinting
that Dec. 26 would be the day cut from the holiday list.

In addition, Evans
stated that the five-week paid vacation that is currently given to employees
with more than 20 years of service to the town, “was a bit generous compared to
others in the study.”

“We’d like to
grandfather in our current employees who get the 25 days (184 city employees),
but moving forward, we recommend to remove that fifth week,” said Evans.

The biggest cost savings
appears to be in the estimated $300,000 annually from medical coverage
contributions by new employees.

Currently, the town of
Ocean City pays 90 percent of an employee’s medical benefits, with a 10-percent
contribution coming from the employees. 
Evans recommended that the council raise the employee contribution to
15%.

The council also lowered
the $500 that is currently paid out by the town for the 457 deferred
compensation plan for retirement to $200 maximum on an annual basis. Prior to
the change, the town would match 25 percent of an employee’s contribution or up
to $500 annually. Evans estimates that the change could bring about $60,000
back to the town.

Finally, the council
removed the town’s contribution to Dependent Life Insurance for new hires,
which will save approximately $3,800, and it moved to offer a High Deductible
Health Plan with Health Savings Accounts for the next plan year.

The recommendations on a
general employee level can take effect with the council’s vote on Tuesday, but
negotiations must be done with both the Fraternal Order of Police and the
I.A.F.F Firefighter’s Union to make those changes to their current contracts.

 

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