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Timeline: How the Benefits Evolved

Key decisions affecting the council's health and welfare benefits package:

•Nov. 16, 1992: City Council passes Resolution 1992-53 giving medical insurance or reimbursements for medical costs, and a $150 per month annuity payment to supervising employees making less than $300 per month. According to an April 7, 2007, legal analysis by Richards, Watson and Gershon, the only employees fitting this classification were City Council members. At this time, California Government Code (36516 (e) and 53202.3) states council members only could receive benefits that the city provides to and pays for its employees, and that any benefits must be provided to a large number of employees.

•Jan. 1, 1995: A new California Government Code goes into effect, saying that council members elected on or after this date cannot receive benefits greater than those provided to the city's non-safety employees, such as police officers. Memorandums of Understanding between the city and its employees at this time do not mention health reimbursements or a $150 per month annuity.

•Sept. 18, 1998: City Council passes Resolution 1998-19 to update its previous benefit resolution. Now the city says it will "provide reimbursement of insurance premiums ... for each elected official ... and those permanent employees of the City, acting in a supervisory capacity, that receive less than $400 per month ..." Annuity payments for these employees remain at $150 per month. Memorandums of Understanding between the city and its employees don't provide reimbursement or an annuity.

•Jan. 1, 2000: A flexible benefits plan takes effect for the city and its employees, allowing the employees to receive reimbursement for insurance premiums if they can prove they have comparable coverage elsewhere. Annuities are not part of any Memorandum of Understanding between the city and its employees, nor are insurance reimbursements that are deferred into an annuity account.

•Feb. 7, 2000: City Council passes Resolution 2000-02 to update its benefits program for elected officials and permanent supervising employees earning less than $400 per month. Instead of $150 per month contributed to an annuity account, these employees now receive $300 per month.

•Nov. 2006: City staff orders these benefits to cease after the payroll administrator discovers them and suspects they may be in violation of state statutes.

•April 7, 2007: A 20-page legal analysis by Richards, Watson and Gershon recommends that the benefits be discontinued as they probably are improper.
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