Newark City Council adjusts pension and healthcare
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 15:10
The Newark City Council voted to adjust the pension and healthcare plans for all city employees hired after Jan. 1,during Monday night’s meeting. City officials said they believe these adjustments will help residents at retirement age maintain appropriate funds after they stop working.
Charles Zusag,the assistant to the city manager, went before the council to gain approval for the addressed amendments to the pension plans. Zusag said this bill will be beneficial for both Newark and its residents.
“We anticipate that, in the long run, this will save the city money on pension costs,” Zusag said.
Some of the council members had questions about certain parts of the bill. District 4 Councilmember David Athey said he was confused as to why certain employees, like the police chief, were exempt from the amended pension plan.
According to Zusag, the state contributes to premiums made to help fund police pensions, which are listed for members of the “special police.” He said the exemption from the bill will apply to Police Chief Paul Tiernan due to his distinguished status as part of the “special police,” as well as all future police chiefs who are hired outside of the police force. However, Zusag said if an officer is promoted to chief, the exemption will not apply.
The pension bill was passed unanimously by the council.
Zusag then presented another bill to amend the eligibility requirements for health insurance of those hired by the city.
“This would replace the defined benefit approach for health insurance,” he said.
Zusag said the bill will enact the International City Management Association Retirement Corporation’s VantageCare Retirement Health Savings programs.He said the program will endorse a $35 per bi-weekly pay period for employees, which will be increased each calendar year.
The health insurance bill was passed unanimously by the council.
“This will provide a retiree enough health insurance until the age of 93, if they retire at the age of 65,” Zusag said. “We are funding our entire health insurance program. This will drive down costs in the long run.”
In addition to voting on amendments to the city’s employee benefit packages, council members discussed the budget plan for the next year.
Newly appointed City Manager Carol Houck said she proposed voting on the plan for next year’s operating budget, which she hopes would close a $1.2 million deficit.
“We’re pretty much done with [the operating budget], other than tweaking,” Houck said.
Houck’s proposal was unanimously approved by the council, earning her words of praise from several of the council members.
District 3 Councilmember Doug Tuttle took the time to commend local law enforcement on their professional attitudes towards older members of the community, while Mayor Vance A. Funk III expressed his delight with the turnout of Taste of Newark Festival.
He said he enjoyed the event, which took place on Main Street on Sept. 30, and is anxious to see if next year’s festival will surpass it.
“It was the best one yet,” Funk said. “The only scary thing is next year they’ll want to make it extra special.”