Pickerington City Council is considering a 1.5-percent salary increase in 2009 for non-union city employees.

Pickerington City Council is considering a 1.5-percent salary increase in 2009 for non-union city employees.

In addition, employees could be asked to cover 8 percent of the cost of their health insurance, a 1-percent increase.

An ordinance authorizing the changes received two readings at council's regular meeting Tuesday night. A third and final reading is scheduled for council's next meeting on Dec. 2.

"What we were trying to do is give some token of a raise so that when we raise the insurance cost the employees won't be receiving less of a paycheck this year than they were last year," said deputy finance director Chris Schornack. "We thought 1.5 percent would cover it. Basically, their take-home pay is going to be about the same."

A handful of city staff will not be eligible for the increase, Schornack said, because it would push their salaries higher than their supervisors.'

City employees typically receive a 3- to 4-percent annual wage increase, but budget constraints have the city staff looking for every potential savings, Schornack said.

"If we would have gone with the 3 percent we originally proposed, it was about $69,000 more," Schornack said. "So, by cutting it in half, it is going to save us about $38,000."

The city's total payroll for its 39 non-union employees is about $2.3-million.

All but three city employees take advantage of the health insurance benefits the city offers.

In 2008, the city offered employees a choice of two plans -- a traditional insurance program and a health savings account (HSA) plan.

The traditional insurance plan cost a total of $15,138 for family coverage, with the employee responsible for 7 percent of the total cost. Five employees subscribed to the plan.

The other employees subscribed to the HSA plan, which cost the city $13,147. However, because of the nature of the plan, employees were responsible only for 7 percent of $10,147.

In 2009, with employees responsible for 8 percent of costs, the premiums will increase by 13.8 percent. Also, all employees with city health benefits will be required to enroll in the HSA plan, Schornack said.

It would cost the city an additional $161,000 a year if only the traditional plan were offered, Schornack said.

"It does save the city some money," he said.