Winder council trims benefits for retirees
BY KRISTI REED
The Winder City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to terminate supplemental medical benefits for retirees over the age of 65. Councilman Sonny Morris was the sole dissenting vote.
The retirement medical benefit plan initially required post-Medicare retirees to pay the full cost of their coverage. A recent amendment to the plan reduced the portion of the post-Medicare premium paid by the retiree to zero.
After an actuarial review, city officials determined that it was not feasible to fund the benefit.
City Administrator Bob Beck said continuing the program would result in $6 million in unfunded obligations for the city.
“The cost is astronomically high,” Beck said. “The actuarial cost is prohibitively high. The city would have to fund $800,000 a year to continue benefits.”
Prior to the amendment, city costs for the plan amounted to $150,800 per year. The amended plan would cost $863,600 per year.
Councilman Morris said he understood the need to terminate the policy, but asked if the city could explore the possibility of providing some other form of supplemental coverage.
“Our retirement package and our benefits package are what keep a lot of our long term employees here,” he said.
In other business, the council:
•authorized an agreement allowing the city to obtain right of ways for the Lee Street and Jackson Street project.
•recognized Winder police lieutenant Kristi Bratcher for her selection as the state certification team leader assessor.
•approved a consent agreement with the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association regarding the development and adoption of operations and maintenance procedures.
•approved a beer permit for Sam’s II. The business is located at 159 West May Street.
•approved a game room license for Star Game Room, 186 West May Street.
•tabled an annexation for .992 acres located at 75 Monroe Highway.
•approved the rezoning of .31 acres located at 24 Atlanta Avenue from R-2 to B-1.
•approved the rezoning of .09 acres located at 18 Atlanta Avenue from R-2 to B-1.
•approved a conditional use request to allow a drive thru lane and window to be located at 126 East May Street. The property is being developed as a Popeye’s Chicken.
•approved a variance request to allow a wall sign on the west end of a building to be located at 168 West May Street. The property is being developed as a Church’s Chicken.
•approved a variance request to allow for a decrease in minimum lot size, front and rear setbacks, and minimum square footage as well as the elimination of the two-car garage requirement for property located at 192 James Street. The applicant proposes to build a 1200 square foot single family home at the location.
•approved an event permit for the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Day celebration scheduled for May 17.
•reviewed the financial report for the first ten months of fiscal year 2008. April represented 83 percent of the fiscal year. Ideal revenues for the period should be equal to or greater than 83 percent of budgeted revenues while expenditures should be equal to or less than 83 percent of budgeted expenditures. The finance department reported that revenues stand at 85 percent of budgeted revenues and expenditures amount to 76 percent of budgeted expenditures.
•announced the receipt of a $377,700 rebate check form the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia. The amount represents a 29 percent increase over last year.
•announced the closing of the $2.7 million Bank of America equipment loan for five years at 2.89 percent.