Garfield County workers to see mid-year raises |

Garfield County workers to see mid-year raises

RIFLE, Colorado – Garfield County government’s employee pay rate will increase 1 percent, and employees could see up to a 2.3 percent merit increase come June based on their performance.

Garfield County commissioners, meeting at the Rifle Sheriff’s Annex Monday, unanimously approved the 2013 employee pay and benefits plan.

The annual pay increase is based on the most-recent market projections that the county uses to ensure that its pay remains competitive, Garfield County Human Resources Director Katherine Ross said at the regular Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Garfield County government employs 486 workers, who stand to receive raises under the new pay plan.

Combined, the 1 percent pay structure increase, plus performance-based raises ranging from 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent for current employees, will cost county taxpayers about $363,000.

That’s well within the more than $700,000 the county had budgeted for pay increases this year, Ross said.

Also included in the pay and benefits plan was some good news related to employee health insurance.

The county budgeted for a potential 10 percent increase in health, dental and vision insurance premium costs this year. Ross said she was initially nervous about that number, and was bracing for as much as a 12 percent increase.

She was pleasantly surprised when the new cost projection came in at 3.5 percent, instead. That increase will also take effect July 1, Ross said.

One reason for the smaller increase is that the county had a relatively low loss ratio of 72.6 percent in 2012, or $5.3 million in insurance claims to $7.3 million in premiums paid, she explained.

The target, break-even ratio is 89.7 percent, she said.

“There is some luck involved,” Ross said. But it also has to do with the county’s employee wellness efforts and an emphasis on preventative care, she added.

As a result, total employee health insurance costs will come in at just over $7.5 million, about $500,000 less than the county had budgeted, Ross said.

County commissioners unanimously approved the employee pay and benefits package. However, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky advised that it could be the last pay raise for a couple of years, as property tax revenue are expected to decline starting in 2014.

“We’re looking at probably $10 million less in property tax revenues, and it’s very likely we will not be able to give raises next year, and potentially the year after that,” Jankovsky said.

Ross said she will be presenting options later this spring for some additional health insurance cost savings next year.

In other action at the Monday meeting, the BOCC:

• Verified that a medical marijuana cultivation facility operated by Holistic Healthcare, located in a commercial building on the Colorado River Road south of New Castle, was in existence prior to the county’s June 2010 moratorium. The verification hearing had been continued until the owners could provide evidence through a signed lease and other documents that the facility predated the county moratorium. Local verification is required before medical marijuana businesses can obtain state licensing.

• Approved funding requests for two economic and business development organizations, including $25,000 to the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center and $50,000 to the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp.

• Approved a $5,000 funding request for the Silt Historical Society to make several facility upgrades at the Silt Historical Park to support fundraising events.

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