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County looking to save $1 million

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County could save as much as $1 million with the initiation of a new medical plan developed in close cooperation with local union representatives.

County Administrator Nancy Buonanno Grennan said approximately $730,000 of this savings will benefit the county’s general fund, which is the subject of an intense budget-cutting process. The savings, however, do not take the pressure off the budget process and do not mean cuts are no longer essential.

“This represents a significant long-term savings,” Grennan said. “But we still need to continue the budget process.”

She said the savings were achieved in a joint effort between union officials and department heads. She said the guiding principle was to cut costs while not cutting jobs or decreasing services.

Departments will still need to cut about 40 full-time employees throughout the county.

The final recommendation was submitted by the Medical Benefits Committee. The recommendation changes some out-of-pocket expenses for each plan, adds a $25-per-month spousal surcharge and a payment of $100 per month for employees who waive their medical coverage.

The co-pay will also see a slight increase.

The unions already agreeing with the recommendation include separate advocates for courthouse employees, supervisory employees, juvenile department employees, prosecuting attorneys, corrections officers, the sheriff’s office and CENCOM.

The county and the Teamsters Local 589 and the Council of Public Works Unions are still in discussion regarding the new plans.

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County could save as much as $1 million with the initiation of a new medical plan developed in close cooperation with local union representatives.

County Administrator Nancy Buonanno Grennan said approximately $730,000 of this savings will benefit the county’s general fund, which is the subject of an intense budget-cutting process. The savings, however, do not take the pressure off the budget process and do not mean cuts are no longer essential.

“This represents a significant long-term savings,” Grennan said. “But we still need to continue the budget process.”

She said the savings were achieved in a joint effort between union officials and department heads. She said the guiding principle was to cut costs while not cutting jobs or decreasing services.

Departments will still need to cut about 40 full-time employees throughout the county.

The final recommendation was submitted by the Medical Benefits Committee. The recommendation changes some out-of-pocket expenses for each plan, adds a $25-per-month spousal surcharge and a payment of $100 per month for employees who waive their medical coverage.

The co-pay will also see a slight increase.

The unions already agreeing with the recommendation include separate advocates for courthouse employees, supervisory employees, juvenile department employees, prosecuting attorneys, corrections officers, the sheriff’s office and CENCOM.

The county and the Teamsters Local 589 and the Council of Public Works Unions are still in discussion regarding the new plans.

Current savings are $836,698. Approval from the last two unions will bring the total to nearly $1 million, Grennan said.

The resolution was adopted at Monday’s regular county commissioner’s meeting. Both present commissioners lauded the resolution as well as the effort it took for its development.

“In all my experience, I don’t remember a time when unions were willing to step up to the plate and develop a solution,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer.

“In most cases, the system will have to be decimated before they will make a sacrifice. This agreement represents a significant change in healthcare benefits, where the unions are real partners in the effort to save money,” he added 

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said the agreement represented an improvement in the management of county resources.

“If we have a good relationship with our employees, we will be able to attract more good people,” Brown said. “We are working very hard to control healthcare costs, and anyone who thinks this is easy has never run a small business.

“Everyone knows about our budget crisis,” Brown said. “Now they should know we are doing something about it.”

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