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County postpones vote on employee health benefits

December 19, 2012
By JOHN PEPIN - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The Marquette County Board postponed a vote Tuesday on whether to approve a new health care cost contribution requirement for all county employees.

Earlier this month, the board met in closed session and later, at a committee-of-the-whole meeting, recommended approval of a measure implementing an 80-20 health care cost split. The county would pay for 80 percent of the cost of an employee's health insurance and the employee would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent, beginning Jan. 1.

The split was aligned with Public Act 152 of 2011, which requires the measure be adopted for public employees. The board was scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday.

However, after emerging from a closed session Tuesday, the board said it would schedule a special meeting for noon Dec. 28 to further discuss the provisions and implications of the public act.

The board expected to use the interim time to further research the issue.

Lowell Larson, a union representative for county workers including sheriff's deputies, thanked the board for postponing its vote. The county's unions are concerned about higher health care costs. Deputies are also lobbying for higher wages in contracts currently being negotiated with the county.

In a related matter, the board approved a new wage and health care offering Tuesday for non-represented employees at the county. In a final vote on that issue, non-union workers were offered a 2 percent pay increase, and for new hires beginning Jan. 1, a $2,000 annual contribution to a health care savings plan in lieu of post-employment health care.

A provision was included that no employee with a spouse also employed by the county would receive both health care benefits as well as the opt-out payment.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.



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