Cass County Road Commission looks to rein in benefits

Published 11:56 pm Friday, December 19, 2008

By By NORMA LERNER / Dowagiac Daily News
CASSOPOLIS – Cass County road commissioners are taking a look at salaried benefits and a committee was formed to do so.
Thursday during a meeting of the road commission, Vice Chairman Leroy Krempec said the road commission is looking at a shortfall of funds.
There's talk of cutting down on employees.
Krempec said he took a look at some things that could be considered givebacks and take aways on the salaried people's policy.
"I am looking at handling tax money properly. These are things that bother me," he said.
Krempec talked about the matching funds that are withheld by 3 percent and the commission matches 7 percent to a pension fund.
"That's out of whack," Krempec said.
The way it is now, an employee can add 10 percent if he or she wants and take it up to 13 percent, and the road commission matches 7 percent.
"I think 7 percent is a lot of money when we have to put it into a pension plan."
Joe Bellina III, engineer-manager, said this is true.
If an employee chooses to enter into the system, he or she has to put in at least 3 percent based on the federal guidelines.
They can choose to go up to 13 percent. The road commission contributes 7 percent.
Krempec maintained it is too much and asked if it could be reduced.
Road Commission Attorney Eugene Smith said this can be modified, but it's in their contract.
This needs to be checked out with the tax code first, he said.
Krempec continuedd, saying the road commission is paying up to $1,000 for dental and $600 for vision. He said, "$600 is a lot for eye glasses." He noted $500 is payable for a physical.
"Another one (benefit) should go by the wayside." He noted jury duty has no set time or hours on it.
There is nothing in the salary policy that indicates an amount or the number of days.
He said sick pay is another thing. He said in other industries if someone uses sick pay and are not sick, that person faces discipline.
The way it is now the employee can use accrued sick pay for other things.
Krempec referred to leaves of absence.
He said someone can take off for two weeks and take sick time to pay for it. They can exchange sick time for personal days. Then there is vacation time and comp time. There is no way to account for comp time. Overtime is overtime. He said employees are paid every three months for comp time. The comp time is something that hasn't been looked at for years, attorney Smith said. Krempec read an old policy signed in 1990 by former manager Rick Senger.
Krempec said, "If we get the ship running right, let's know what we are doing every day. We give away money that is not fair to the people of our county even though it comes from gas money."