WJ revamps village worker insurance

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West Jefferson Village Council voted Dec. 1 on two ordinances that will affect village employees’ benefits. The ordinances, proposed and discussed at the previous council meeting, are an attempt to reduce spending.

One of the ordinances raises the percen-tage of insurance premiums that village employees pay from 15 percent to 20 percent. Sheila Nelson, Randy Otis, Jim King, Ron Garver and Darlene Steele voted in favor for the ordinance; Eugene Sidner voted against it.

The other ordinance amends the village’s policy on providing insurance to employees’ spouses and dependents. Under the old policy, family members were covered by the village’s insurance, with the village paying 85 percent of their premiums.

With the amendment, the policy provides insurance for an employee’s family members but only if the family members have no other coverage. If the employee’s spouse or dependents have coverage under a different insurance policy, the village now pays only 50 percent of the premiums. As originally proposed, the amendment called for the village to pay none of the premiums for employees’ family members who are covered elsewhere. However, Otis proposed the change to 50 percent.

Village employee Debbie Chaffins, and her husband, Gaylord, attended the council meeting to voice their concerns about the new ordinance.

“I don’t understand how you could do this to your employees,” Debbie said. “You’ve taken a dedicated employee down to just an employee.”

Mayor Scott Hockenbery replied, “We have to do what’s best for the village of West Jefferson.”

Otis, Nelson, King, Garver and Steele voted in favor of the ordinance. Sidner voted against it. Doug Eakins was absent.

Post Office building sold
In other matters, council passed a resolution authorizing Hockenbery to sell the village-owned building that houses West Jefferson’s post office.

According to Finance Director Jack Herrel, Lawrence M. Magdovitz, president of First Inc., agreed to pay the appraised value of the building, $185,000. However, the village is not allowed to pay a finder’s fee, so Magdovitz subtracted the amount of the finder’s fee from the appraised value and submitted a bid of $177,600.

First Inc. was the only bidder. The building, located at 249 W. Main St., will remain a post office until at least 2010, at which point the U.S. Postal Service will have the option to renew the lease for another 10 years.

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