$1,000 city pay hikes OKed

    If the State of Indiana doesn't wreak havoc with Decatur's 2012 budget, city employees will be getting raises of $1,000 each after going without increases this year and last.
    Insurance changes are coming, though, with only some employees to be affected by higher costs.
    City council unanimously approved the $1,000 hikes at its meeting Tuesday night, with the stipulation of "if the money is available." Mayor John Schultz, who supported the hike, said the only concern would be if the state radically reduced the city's budget for next year once that budget is submitted.
    "You never know what the state, in all its infinite wisdom, will do," he said.
    The $1,000 figure was suggested by Councilman Matt Dyer, who praised city department heads and employees for the way they held down costs last year. "They put us in position to do this (provide raises)," he said.
    Approximately $600,000 of budgeted money was not spent last year, and thus reverts to the current general fund.
    The salary hikes will boost the city's new budget by about two and a half percent overall, Councilman Ken Meyer pointed out. The city has approximately 75 employees.

    Council also approved major changes in the structure of the city's employee health insurance. "Like many others, we are facing difficulties with health insurance," the mayor said in launching the discussion.
    The city's current plan, through the local Kintz Insurance agency, is a two-tier setup, Schultz pointed out. One tier is for an employee and the other for an employee and his/her family.
    John Kintz of the local agency was on hand and suggested a four-tier system to council: 1. employee; 2. employee and spouse; 3. employee and children; 4. employee, spouse and children (family plan).
    Under the two-tier system — one of only two in Adams County that he knows of, Kintz said — "there is no incentive not to take it," he pointed out. There are "multiple reasons" to go to the four-tier, although it isn't likely to save the city much, if any, money in premiums. "We have looked at many options and this (four-tier) is what it came to," he continued.
    "We want to keep the benefits the same," the mayor said.
    Under the four-tier setup, the city will continue to pick up a major portion of the cost. The single plan will cost the employee $1 a year, while the employee/spouse and employee/children plans will each cost the employee $900 a year. The family plan will cost the employee $1,800 a year — a little over $400 more than for the current family plan.
    The city's insurance currently covers 194 people.
    The move to the four-tier was approved on a unanimous vote.