County workers receive 3 paid holidays
County employees will be happy to know that they’re getting paid for three holidays this year, after having to take several unpaid holidays in recent years.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners at its Tuesday night meet- ing approved up to 24 total hours of holiday pay to all full-time employees covering the scheduled fiscal year 2013 holidays of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The holiday pay will be paid by a separate payroll check to full-time employees and made available for distribution on Dec. 21, 2012. All normal payroll deductions — taxes, FICA, Medicare and retirement percent — would be applicable. The pay is a onetime payroll adjustment, based upon current fiscal year budget performance indicators.
According to a holiday compensation recommendation from County Manager John Middleton, the projected expense to the general fund would be $72,300 per holiday or $216,900 for three holidays.
The funding source for the holiday pay will come from The Affordable Healthcare Act Rebate, which is $126,181 the county received from insurance provider Cigna, and
$90,719 of additional yearto-date Local Option Sales Tax collections.
Cigna gave the county a rebate in the amount of $138,195 in August. Of those funds, the county paid its employees 2.5 percent of the insurance premiums they paid, which was a rebate in the amount of $14.10 for single coverage plans and $23.47 for family coverage plans.
The total cost of rebates for the county’s employees was $12,014.16, which reduced the employer rebate to $126,181. The remainder of the money was set aside pending the December financial review by the Board of Commissioners, which in turn resulted in funding for three additional paid county holidays.
In June, the board approved a $44.89 million budget that restored five paid working days to employees, which will cost the county $325,000. Middleton and Chairman Kathy Morgan previously said they made the move a priority because the county needed to work toward making employees whole again in light of continued cuts and low morale.
The five days did not revert to paid holidays but rather to regular paid working days; the county added local holidays when the furlough days were needed and then removed those created holidays.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz made the point that the holiday pay was good, but that holiday pay should be replaced permanently. She said she hoped it would be an idea considered in the upcoming fiscal year budget.
“I think that one of the things that we all whole-heartedly agree on is that our county employees have really been through the grunt of the economic downturn in this county,” Schulz said. “We give them a lot of extra responsibilities and we’ve asked them to hang with us and do their jobs and I think that it is very important that we honor them with this holiday pay.”
“Our employees do deserve this and I want to thank John for bringing this to us. I think this is a great thing for us to do for our employees,” said Commissioner Tim Fleming.