City Accountant Barbara Mashack urges council members to “treat [employees] with respect.” Listening are aldermen, from left, Aaron Becker and Al Schraeder. 		  Ian Stepleton photo
City Accountant Barbara Mashack urges council members to “treat [employees] with respect.” Listening are aldermen, from left, Aaron Becker and Al Schraeder. Ian Stepleton photo

     Aldermen Aaron Becker and John Splitt are right.

     Whether city employees have individual or family health-insurance policies, their share of the premiums is low.

     The 21 individuals among the 37 non-unionized staff currently have $60 per month deducted from their paychecks for their share of an individual premium; unionized staff (police) pay $100 per month.

     That represents 8% and 13%, respectively, of the full premium costs for single coverage.

     Splitt rightly has described employees’ share of the premium as “outdated,” noting that his informal survey of Ripon industrial employers showed that a 20% share of the cost — 18 percent nationally — is typical in the private sector. ...

     But the city is not the private sector, and health insurance cannot be considered in isolation of an employee’s total compensation package.

     When it comes to pay, most city of Ripon workers receive lower wages than their counterparts elsewhere, according to findings from a comparative wage-benefit survey of other like-sized Wisconsin communities that City Administrator Lori Rich conducted at the council’s direction. She released her findings to the council in March.

     ... City leaders can’t chip-seal roads or add library hours on the backs of city workers who now are paid less than parity compared with their peers.

     If the city insists on reducing employees’ take-home pay by failing to offset health-insurance premium raises with wage hikes, it best be prepared to advertise for new workers willing to do the same jobs their counterparts perform but with less remuneration and armed with less experience and loyalty. ...
                                    — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the May 9, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.