Safford employees looking at 3% increase, higher health insurance

SAFFORD – Safford City Manager Horatio Skeete would like to give the city’s employees a 3-percent pay hike to offset increased health insurance costs.

Skeete and Finance Director Lydia Newkirk made the proposal during a recent City Council meeting. Total cost to the city would be $580,623.

Newkirk said the health and dental plan renewals came back 7- to 12-percent higher than last year, necessitating the longevity pay increase for employees with two years of employment or more.

Skeete also proposed modifying the plan slightly, weighting disbursement of the increase to those at the lower end of the city’s wage scale, rather than a flat increase across the board. He said the change would not impact the total amount spent by the city.

Newkirk also proposed a slight change in the city’s vacation policy, limiting employees who have accumulated 80 or more hours of vacation to cash out a maximum of 40 hours per year. She said the move would encourage more employees to use their vacation time rather than allow it to go to waste, and would cost about $68,000

The council directed Skeete to bring the proposals back with the proposed budget for formal action.