I'll start with the good news.
During a news conference this afternoon,Northampton County Exec John Brown stated that the County workforce is the "most valuable asset we have." He denied telling anyone that he wants county workers to evaluate whether they really want to be here. He denied that there's a hiring freeze or that he has no intention of filling 16 vacancies at the jail. He denied that he's targetting any specific Department.
He also reassured workers concerned about their job security. "I have no intention of laying people off," he said. He also denied any plans to privatize county services "at this time", including custodial. He added that no department head has proposed layoffs.
He indicated he has every intention of offering a competitive total compensation package.
"We plan to contunue being a good employer," he said.
Now for the bad news.
Brown does expects wages to remain flat. He calls that part of the "active discussions" taking place in union negotiation. He declined to get into other aspects, like sick time and vacation.
He also wants the workforce to bear more of the burden of rising healthcare costs, regardless whether the County has a Cadillac plan. He is making "minor changes" that will have "as little impact on the employee as possible." He wants to "encourage consumerism" during the open enrollment in health care plans that starts on October 1. He insists that the County wil continue to offer a "robust" health plan.
Brown did give a 1 1/2 hour power point presentation to the labor leadership a few weeks ago. He plans on giving an abbreviated version of that presentation to County Council tomorrow evening, and promised to make it available to the media at that time as well.
He also provided a brief outline explaining the numbers, whgich I am providing below:
NorCo Employee Benefits Package
Employees are critical to the continued success of Northampton County. Northampton County has been able to attract and retain a dedicated workforce through offering a competitive compensation package that includes:
b. Healthcare Plan
Updated 6:45: In 2010, Northampton County Covoted to end post-retirement health care, but that only applied to new hires.
c. Defined Benefit Pension Plan
e. Job Security
f. Work Environment
Tax Revenues, which are used to pay for the benefit programs, have remained relatively flat for the past several years. Despite revenues remaining flat, the County has consistently supported the benefits program for our employees. Costs paid by the County for the core benefit programs offered by Northampton County to all our employees are as follows:
a. Defined Benefit Pension
1. 2008 = $ 0.6 million
2. 2014= $ 11.8 million
b. Post Retirement Medical
1. 2008= $ 6.2 million
2. 2014= $ 5.7 million
c. Healthcare Cost
1. 2008 =
$ 16.7 million
2. 2014 =
$ 22.0 million
Cost to support the defined benefit pension and healthcare plans have significantly outpaced the tax revenue generation by the County.
a. Tax Revenue
1. 2009 = $ 83.0 million
2. 2014 = $ 87.7 million
3. Increase of $ 4.7 million between 2009 and 2014
b. Total Cost of core benefits paid by Northampton County:
1. 2008 = $ 23.5 million
2. 2014 = $ 39.5 million
3. Increase of $ 16.0 million between 2008 and 2014
c. Total Net Cost increase = $ 11.3 million
Northampton County will continue to provide a competitive total compensation package for all our employees but require your support and active participation in order to reduce costs and minimize required changes. Over the next few weeks the County will provide plan specific details to employees regarding changes being offered in the healthcare benefit program