02/17/17 — City to pay on council's benefits

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City to pay on council's benefits

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on February 17, 2017 9:57 AM


Councilman Gene Aycock shares ideas about the city's mission during the council's annual retreat at the Goldsboro Event Center.

The Goldsboro City Council decided Thursday to give itself city-funded health insurance as part of its benefit package.

Members of the council will be able to piggyback on the city's health insurance coverage plan, which includes a city cost of $479 per month per council member. The council will need to approve an ordinance, possibly within the next month, that formalizes the council benefit.

The decision was made during the council's annual retreat, at the Goldsboro Event Center.

Councilman Gene Aycock suggested the city pay 80 percent of the premium cost, with each councilman paying 20 percent.

"I have no problem offering it to them, even at 80 percent rather than 100 percent," Aycock said. "I believe everybody should have some type of ownership with their health insurance policy."

Aycock said he wouldn't accept coverage since he already receives Medicare. Other council members could also opt out, Aycock said.

Councilman Bill Broadaway also favored the city paying 80 percent of the cost.

Mayor Chuck Allen and Mayor Pro Tem Bevan Foster said the council should be offered the same coverage as city employees.

"I personally believe, at a minimum, we ought to offer (health insurance) to the council," Allen said. "I think you do whatever you do for the city employees. If you pay 100 percent for the employees, you pay 100 percent for the council."

In North Carolina, 32 counties provide fully-funded health insurance and several cities in eastern North Carolina provide some form of health insurance, including Greenville, Jacksonville and Rocky Mount, said Pamela Leake, Goldsboro interim human resources director.

In Wayne County, the commissioners each receive an annual stipend of $7,260 to cover the cost of health insurance, said Carol Bowden, clerk to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

The council was more divided in its view on whether to give itself a pay increase.

"We, basically, have done a pay raise," Aycock said, in reference to the health insurance benefit. "If we do it, I won't take it."

Broadaway said he wasn't even aware of the council's annual pay when he was elected to office.

"Quite frankly, and I can honestly say this, I didn't think we got anything," Broadaway said. "I see it almost like an honorarium."

Each member of the council, except the mayor, receives $9,000 in annual pay and another $3,000 for travel expenses. The mayor receives more, including a $4,800 travel allowance. Allen does not accept his annual pay of $11,400 but has earmarked it for city use toward the employee star award program.

Council pay has remained at $9,000 since 2009, when the pay was reduced by $600 during a struggling economy. The last council-approved pay hike took place in 1996.

"I can tell you this has come up over the years, probably three or four times by different people, and over the years, the council always just has never been inclined to raise it," Allen said.

Williams said he puts in a lot of time and energy, sometimes working at least 35 hours a week on city business.

"We haven't had an increase in two decades," Williams said. "I know a lot of our council members might feel like, you know, there would be a lot of backlash, but I think our citizens understand that we're all working very hard.

"I know I'm working hard. I don't think that it would be a negative thing. Honestly, I think that it's time."

Foster agreed.

"I think it's time," Foster said.

Kaye Scott, Goldsboro's finance director, is expected to provide the council with inflation figures by Monday night's council meeting. An ordinance for the health insurance coverage is expected sometime in March.