Council considers options for health care for employees - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Council considers options for health care for employees

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Retired Columbia firefighter at city council meeting Retired Columbia firefighter at city council meeting

The Columbia City Council says it needs more time to investigate options for paying for health care for city employees.

After a lengthy presentation and discussion with Human Resources Director Pamela Benjamin Tuesday night, the council decided to organize a committee of council members and current and retired employees to figure out the best way to address the budget covering health care for city employees.

"Where we are now is not adequate," she said.

While working on the budget for the coming fiscal year, the council will have to decide among several options how much the city will contribute to health care plans for current and retired employees. Benjamin presented several options the council could consider. One includes wellness incentives for employees who make healthy decisions.

Several retirees asked the council to consider their years of service and dedication when making a decision on which option to accept.

"I'm just asking you to honor the commitment those men and women made to this city," said one former employee.

A retired firefighter said when he was hired in 1983, he was promised free health care when he retired.

"I'm looking for y'all to honor that agreement," he said.

"There was a golden egg that was given to us and that was our healthcare benefits," said another man.

Before the discussion, Mayor Steve Benjamin reminded the group that paying for the proposed ballbark at Bull Street does not affect funding for employees health care plans.

"We cannot use hospitality tax revenue," he said.

Benjamin also said once the sale of the Palmetto Compress Warehouse in completed, money from the sale will be returned into the city's health care reserve fund.

Whatever council decides, the new health care plans for employees will take effect January 1st, 2015.

Also at the meeting, council also said good-bye to longtime City Attorney Kenneth Gaines with a cake offered to everyone attending. Gaines retires May 30th.

Click here for a link to Pamela Benjamin's presentation to council on employee healthcare options.

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