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District officials say benefit plan won’t affect current employees

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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New employees of the Auburn Recreation District may have a separate benefits program from current employees that cuts existing benefits. The district’s board is currently reviewing a proposal brought up at the November meeting that would make several changes to the current benefits program. If approved, the following changes would apply to new hires. 1) Moving from a choice of a $20 co-pay or deductible (Health Savings Account) medical program to deductible (Health Savings Account) only program. 2) The district will no longer cover the cost of dependants or share the cost of the excess of $550 for individuals. 3) Reduction of the District paid full cost of CalPers retirement contribution from 17.22 percent to 10.22 percent. 4) Cutting personal time off accruals by 25 percent. “Actually I was the one that asked it to come before the board. Looking at our benefits package we have got to find some way to save money,” said Curt Smith, district board member. “The last thing I want to see is any our current employees affected.” Smith said the savings could be $100,000 to $200,000. “We could be saving $100,000 to $200,000 in “now-year” dollars,” Smith said. “It would take 15 to 20 years to have a complete turn-over.” The board asked district administrators to gather more detailed information on how other cities recreation district benefits packages compare before it will make a decision. So far the district hasn’t had to institute any layoffs or furlough days, according to Recreation Services Manager, Sheryl Petersen. Although, all recreation district staff salaries have been frozen for three years. Joe Fecko, administrative services manager, said the loss of tax revenue has cut the district’s operating budget dramatically by about 20 percent. Fecko said if the board approves the benefits changes they could also vote to go back to the old system when the economy recovers. He said he isn’t sure the changes to benefits would discourage people from being employed by the district. “We have lost probably $600,000 in tax revenue over last three years or so,” Fecko said. “In this day in age I think any job is attractive at this point.” Smith said the district wouldn’t make a decision until more information is gathered. “This seems to be a way to save money without affecting employees that are currently on payroll,” Smith said. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.