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City Employees' Pay Raise Offset by Higher Benefit Contributions

The Muskego Common Council approved 2 percent cost of living increases for 2012, but increased employee contributions to health care and retirement benefits will result in about the same take home pay.

If you work for the city of Muskego, the good news is that your wages will increase 2 percent retroactive to January 1 of this year.

However, a new resolution passed by the Common Council Tuesday night will also require higher contribution levels for benefits like health insurance and retirement, netting no gain in take home pay.

Employees currently paying into their health insurance will be asked to up the ante to 9 percent, up from about 6 percent, effective with their next paycheck. That increases to 10 percent in 2013. Those who hadn't participated before and want to join going forward will be asked to kick in 12 percent of their monthly premiums, and 13 percent in 2013.

Alderman Dan Soltysiak was the most vocal in questioning the increase for 2012, stating "I've heard nobody make a case for why any cost of living adjustment (COLA), let alone 2 percent is warranted at this time."

Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti explained that the state defines the increase. Labor attorney Jim Korom shed further light on the number, explaining that "the Department of Revenue has come up with a complicated methodology, and examines on a month-to-month basis changes in costs. It's a complex averaging system that was brought about since the (Gov. Scott) Walker reforms."

Korom went on to remind the council that in 2011, city employees and non-represented police supervisors took a cut in their total compensation of 3 to nearly 6 percent.

"At some point you'll reach a point where your better employees will begin to leave to work for other employers," Korom said. In addition, he pointed out that in light of the Tuesday night, some rank and file officers could start to make more with overtime than their supervisors.

The increase will impact 2012 wages, and the council may change how any further increases are determined as they look to the 2013 budget. Many on the council felt somewhat "painted into a corner" as the current practice is to budget for an increase, and then adopt an increase much later in the year, based on negotiations with employee unions. With the recent decrease in public employee unions that municipalities have to deal with, that practice could be different.

"If we don't want to give a COLA then going forward, we may want to consider not budgeting for it. However, in the end our employees are not making out like bandits," said Alderman Rob Glazier.

Sandy Kazmierczak August 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I would not even think of walking away from a job that not only supplied me with a above average wage,great health plan, and a pension for only 10% contibution. If our city employee's want to walk away just because they don't also get a 2% COLA, let them. There are so many people out there who have had their jobs eliminated and are working for much lower wage with little or no health care and a pension only in their dreams. Maybe our city workers should start looking around and see just how lucky they are.
Denise Konkol (Editor) August 31, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I don't believe there has been much of any turnover, and there hasn't been any great outcry, so I wouldn't read that into the story.
SBR August 31, 2012 at 03:42 AM
How can you charge some employees 9% and others 13% of their insurance?
csbothsides August 31, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Sandy, maybe you should talk to the NON-union city employees before making a blanket statement that they are ungrateful for what they have! I'm not sure where you got the information that their wages & pension are above average, they are barely average and the take home pay will be less with the changes. The health care plan is no longer "above average" with the changes. The change in the pension plan last year (not even close to what the State employees are/were getting) caused a reduction in take home pay, I'm getting sick of hearing people say they should be happy to have a job. If you are used to 1 thing and it changes significantly and keeps changing, it still hurts!
G. Whitehaus September 01, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I agree with csbothsides. I have found that the people that belly ache the most about municipal/government/school district employees making a liveable wage are the ones driving the most expensive cars and living in the biggest houses. "Joe the plumber" types can appreciate what it's like to be truely middle class wage earners.

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