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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Pound Agrees On Insurance, Not Raises, For Employees

At a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 11 Pound Village Board agreed to provide health insurance to Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schutte and Public Works Director Kevin Schutte instead of raises for 2018.

According to information presented by Clerk Schutte at the regular board meeting a week earlier, she has received no raise for three years, and Kevin has had no raise for five years. She had included provisions in the 2018 village budget for a 10 percent raise for Kevin this year and a five percent raise for herself, but both told the board they would much prefer health insurance.

Had the raises been given as budgeted the cost would have totaled approximately $8,000. Insurance coverage as approved will cost the village $7,967 for the year.

She had assembled some information on comparative salaries and benefits for similar positions in Coleman, Lena, Suring and Wausaukee, and obtained prices from several insurance providers. The board discussed the insurance versus raises request at its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, and scheduled the special meeting on Dec. 11 after deciding they should have more information on insurance options before making a decision.

Everyone on the board expressed shock at the prices. The least costly policy on the Obama "Affordable Health Care" program was quoted at over $2,700 per month for the couple.

After viewing additional information provided by Clerk Schutte at the Dec. 11 meeting the board voted unanimously of provide health insurance through the the state plan with EFT Insurance with dental coverage at a cost of $663.94 each per month. The village will pay half the premium and the employees will pay the other half. State law requires the employees to pay at least 12 percent of the insurance cost.

The wage/benefit comparisons showed that in Pound the current Clerk/Treasurer pay is $32,000 per year and Public Works/Utility Director is $20.40 per hour, which comes to $42,432 for the 2,080 hours worked currently. If the raise option had been approved pay in 2018 would have totaled $46,675. Coleman pays $20.40 per hour for the clerk/treasurer, $21.75 for Public Works Director and $20.69 for Utilities Director. Lena pay is $42,328 for Clerk/Treasurer, $13,000 for Public Works with 2 years' experience, and $46,488 for Utilities director with 30 years' experience. Suring pay is $44,681 for clerk/treasurer, and $22 per hour for public works and $20.50 per hour for utilities, with the village paying 88 percent of the health insurance cost. Wausaukee pays $17.25 hourly for clerk/treasurer and $16 per hour each for public works and utilities directors, and contributes $400 monthly toward cost of health insurance.

Prior to the Dec. 11 vote, Trustee David Navis asked for additional information on size and property values/tax incomes of the municipalities used for the comparisons. There was no data on the property values, but said population of Pound is 375, Coleman is 700, Lena is 545, Suring is 526 and Wausaukee is 567. However there are also differences in the number of employees doing the jobs.

Village President Terry Earley commented that in the other communities the utilities include a operation of a wastewater treatment plant, which Pound does not. Sewage from the Village of Pound is treated at the Coleman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

There were numerous comments all around the table on how much health insurance premiums have increased since Obama Care came into the picture, and how drastically the deductibles have gone up, which results in far more costly care for the persons insured. One of the policies included a $50,000 annual deductible that would need to be paid out of pocket before any coverage kicked in, and the premiums exceeded $2,000 per month.

Everyone on the board expressed frustration with Congress' failure to repeal or repair Obama Care. "If we could force Congress to take the same insurance plan as the general public, we'd see some changes right away," Davis declared. Others on the board agreed.


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