Personnel policy changes

Published 9:28 am Thursday, July 6, 2017

AHOSKIE – As evident by lowering their overall operating budget by $1.5 million for the new fiscal year that officially began July 1, town officials here are seeking ways to reduce costs.

Newly hired Town Manager Kerry McDuffie put two such cost-reduction measures before the Ahoskie Town Council at their meeting here last week. Council approved both of McDuffie’s recommendations.

The first came in health/medical insurance benefits now offered to Town of Ahoskie employees who retire from their jobs after a minimum of 20 years of service. The town provides these retirement benefits through the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees Retirement System. Town of Ahoskie employees working 1,000 or more hours annually are required to join this retirement plan.

Currently, the contributions for the health/medical insurance premiums paid by the town for retirees are by the following percentages:

100 percent for employees who retire with 30 or more years of service;

75 percent for retiring employees who have worked 25-to-29 years; and

50 percent for those retiring with 20-to-24 years of service.

McDuffie noted that these benefits will be paid to retired town employees until they reach the age of 65. At that time, the town will cover the costs, based on the percentages above, for a Medicare supplement policy.

“Over time, this becomes a very costly benefit that the town provides,” McDuffie stressed.

However, McDuffie cited the need to protect this benefit for those now enrolled in the retirement program.

“It’s not appropriate to withdraw that benefit after they have began their full-time employment with the town,” he said. “They are working towards receiving this benefit.”

McDuffie recommended a “grandfather” clause to guarantee the retirement benefits to current employees.

“This policy change would affect any new town employee hired on or after July 1, 2017,” he suggested.

His second recommendation dealt with a current town policy that allows regular employees to sell back 40 hours and department heads to sell back 80 hours of annual vacation time that is not used.

“Instead of using their vacation time for the purpose of enjoying time off from work, they’ll hold on to it and sell it back to the town, 40 or 80 hours respectively,” McDuffie noted.

As a cost savings to the town and to promote the need for employees to take a relaxing break from work, MuDuffie suggested doing away with this policy.

“However, because there are some employees who in the past have saved up their vacation time and receive a buy-back from the town that the employee will use at Christmas, it’s not fair to cut it completely out with the current calendar year now past the halfway point,” McDuffie stated.

His recommendation was to allow employees to sell back up to 20 hours of unused vacation time between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

“After that, this policy will be removed from the personnel policy,” McDuffie said.

Upon a motion from Councilman C. David Stackhouse, both of McDuffie’s proposed changes to the town’s personnel policy were approved without objection.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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