City Council approves 22 percent increase for insurance cafeteria plan

October 30, 2002
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesAll city employees including members of the City Council got a monthly pay boost with a $111 increase to the city’s cafeteria plan.The City Council approved the 22 percent increase at the Oct. 7th meeting after a hurriedly called closed session.The cafeteria plan provides city employees additional funds for medical/dental insurance premiums; employees have the option of buying into the city’s insurance plan or choosing their own.The plan was raised from $517 a month to $626 a month. The increase will affect the city’s 148 full-time employees as well as the five members of the City Council who also receive the benefit. The annual cost increase to the city, according to the report by Melissa Grisales, assistant to the city manager, would be $197,136.Vice Mayor Laura Flores Espinosa asked that the issue be pulled from the consent calendar for discussion as to whether or not the city should pay the increase without negotiations, since the increase is over the 8 percent limit that usually triggers such negotiations.Last year the city raised the cafeteria plan without opening negotiations, she added. “I question whether it would be more prudent to look into negotiations; I would be happy to cover the cost with some justification,” garnered through more discussion.Councilman Rick Cook objected, noting that he thought the issues had been addressed in closed session.Grisales said such a council discussion had occurred which led to the item appearing on the agenda, but Espinosa said she had been attending an out-of-town conference and had not been updated on the discussion.
City Attorney Phil Romney said that what was discussed in closed session “had certain contingencies to it; what is occurring now is consistent with what was discussed in the closed session.”Romney suggested that that the council go into closed session due to the urgency of the item.City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz agreed, noting the employee deadline for medical/dental insurance program enrollment.“I was not a part,” of the original discussion on the issue, and “I would be remiss if I said go ahead,” without more information, said Espinosa.After the closed session, the full council approved the increase.

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