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Council mulls new employee benefits package:

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 11 2014 11:29:58 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 12 2014 06:32:24 AM CST
City of Easton council meeting
EASTON, Pa. -

Easton City Council on Tuesday discussed, but took no action, on a new employee benefits package for non-union and management employees.

The benefits package would cut vacation days, eliminate sick leave bonuses and encourage workers to select generic mail order prescriptions over more expensive brand name drugs sold at pharmacies.

Council is expected to revisit the proposed changes in two weeks.

City Administrator Glenn Steckman did not get far into review of the proposed changes before he was stopped by Mayor Sal Panto Jr., who repeatedly objected to proposed 15 vacation days that employees hired after Jan. 1 will receive.

“It’s excessive,” said Panto. He said workers should get 10 vacation days, not 15, when they are hired.

The vacations were a small piece of a larger plan outlined by Steckman, who said his goal is to claw back Easton’s benefits to bring the city’s finances to a “sustainable model,” so Easton doesn't sink into the same dire straits other cities face across the country.

The sick leave bonus is one of the benefits proposed to be struck from the benefits package.

Currently, city workers who don’t use sick leave from January 1 through Dec. 31 of each year are eligible to receive a bonus of $500.

Also targeted for elimination is longevity pay, which paid workers with 25 years on the job a $3,500 bonus, $2,800 for 20 years; $2,100 for 15 years; $1,400 for 10 years and $700 for five years.

A number of changes are proposed for health care benefits.

Co-pays would increase from $20 to $45 next year for someone designated “single,” and from $60 to $100 for a “non-single.”

Beginning in 2016, for workers whose spouses have health care insurance available through the spouse’s employer, the spouse will be required to have health care insurance from their employer.

About 30 to 35 workers would be affected by the proposed changes, Steckman said.

Council also discussed and generally seemed to agree with a proposal to out-source its payroll processing to ADP payroll services, at a cost of $35,000 a year.

This is an effort to streamline the payroll process currently handled by the city’s human resources department.

Steckman said the HR department is "overworked."

He said other cities like Reading have opted to have their payrolls processed by ADP.