Columbus employees speak out one last time before vote on rising - WRBL

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Columbus employees speak out one last time before vote on rising healthcare costs

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Columbus city employees had one last opportunity to express their concerns to council Tuesday night about rising health insurance costs. Council will vote next week on what to do about the increase of healthcare costs, which has put the city at a $2-million deficit.

On a night with a full agenda, with proclamations and line items that rolled over from last week’s canceled session because of the winter storm, some employees waited three hours to voice their opinion.

“It's important,” says Michael Burgess, the Employee Benefits Committee Chair. “This is going to affect people's take home pay. It's going to affect them and affect their ability to provide healthcare that they choose to their families.”

The meeting went into an executive session, so we were unable to speak to the mayor about how she thought the night went, but on Monday she told News 3 she hopes council can find middle ground between what's proposed and what the employees want.

“My hope is that as they discuss the compromise, they'll see that what's on the table right now falls several hundred dollars short and as we discuss where that money is going to come from, there may be a further compromise and get us a little closer to where we need to be,” says Tomlinson.

The focus shifts to next week as the council will come to a decision. Burgess says he thinks the employee forums have made a difference.

“Personally, I’m encouraged. I think we've had a lot of good feedback from our employees...the three meetings were well attended, gave a lot of feedback from the councilors, so we'll see,” says Burgess.

If elected officials and public safety are excluded from cuts, which is usually what happens, department’s budgets would be cut by about 15%. Mayor Tomlinson says a cut like this would result in layoffs.

The council's vote will take place next Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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