Exeter employees request insurance, retirement plans

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wastewater plant supervisor proposes water rate hike to cover cost

City of Exeter employees petitioned the city council recently to come up with insurance and retirement plans for three of the city's employees.

Paul Duncan, wastewater plant supervisor for the city of Exeter, has asked the city's council to provide health insurance for the three employees who do not have it, as health insurance is now mandated per the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Duncan also requested the city look into creating a retirement plan for those same employees, suggesting the city go through the same system used by many other rural, southwest Missouri cities. He said funding for both programs could be achieved through a water rate hike.

"We wouldn't be asking for much," he said. "We're looking at about $5 per employee per customer. If [the city council does this], it's buying our experience and buying our loyalty. But, even if this request is denied, I will still stay in Exeter and continue my work."

The three employees that would benefit from the change, if approved by the council, include Duncan, Police Chief Marion Jacobson and Public Works Supervisor Mark Brooks.

While the city council said they would discuss the request, multiple aldermen and the mayor said raising water rates is not likely to be feasible.

"We have trouble getting people to pay their bills now, so there's no way we could raise it like that," said Rusty Reed, mayor of Exeter.

Alderman Keith Johnson said with the size of the city and its economic makeup, a rate hike would be tough on the residents.

"The odds are not good because we can't raise rates like that," he said. "A lot of people around here just don't have any money. I wish we were a bigger city so we could afford stuff like that."

Aldermen concluded the topic by saying they would look into how to fund insurance and retirement plans, and the city will revisit the topic at its February meeting.

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