Budget Payback? Commissioners Propose Benefits Cut For County Council

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 12, 2011 Updated Aug 12, 2011 at 5:21 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter ) --- One day after Allen County Council members ordered paycheck deductions for the county's 1,200 employees, county commissioners are suggesting a budget cut idea that could be viewed as "tit for tat”.

The commissioners, like other county departments, have been asked to cut expenses by more than 7 percent for 2012.

One idea in their proposal being filed Monday involves eliminating health and life insurance benefits for county council members.

The commissioners say this isn't retaliation, but the timing is interesting.

Thursday, county council, in a split vote, decided to automatically deduct three percent from county employee paychecks starting in January, a contribution that county government has traditionally made to those workers retirement funds.

The new proposal being pitched by the commissioners would cut health and life insurance and retirement benefits for a specific category of workers.

Nelson Peters/(R) Allen County Commissioner: " Those particular cuts, if they were adopted, would effect part-time employees. They'd effect some county attorneys, some public defenders perhaps, and the county council members themselves."

The commissioners are proposing other cost savings measures.

They include allowing some employees to work reduced hours and thus earn less pay.

In addition, a severance program is up for consideration, which could offer “buy outs” to some workers, with a projected savings of between $13,000 and $18,000 annually per employee.

The insurance cutback, however, is the one that figures to raise some eyebrows among county council members.

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