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Galt City Council members could restore furloughs

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Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:17 am, Mon Jun 18, 2012.

It's not often you hear of a public agency restoring furlough days. But such an item is on Tuesday's Galt City Council meeting. It's part of an agreement with employee unions to change health coverage plans that will ultimately save the city $243,000 this year.

Furlough days have become common in local cities and school districts as councils and boards struggle to balance budgets while receiving less state and federal funding.

Each year, the city of Galt reviews its medical health coverage costs and looks for lower-cost alternatives. Until now, CalPERS was not affordable, according to a report from the Human Resources Department.

The city has experienced large health care coverage increases between 10 percent and 12 percent annually under its current insurance providers. On the other hand, CalPERS increases have averaged about 6 percent annually over the last five years.

The provider switch could save the city $243,000 in fiscal year 2012-13 and an additional $390,000 in 2013-14 due to an decrease in city-funded health care premiums paid by the city.

If approved, contracts with Kaiser and Healthnet would terminate at the end of August.

A portion of the savings from health care coverage will restore previous furloughs to the city's unions.

For example, the Galt Police Officers Association's leave will be reduced from 74 hours to 43 hours annually, which essentially results in a 1.5 percent salary increase beginning next month.

In a separate agenda item, council members will be asked to approve an official side letter agreement with employees regarding the health care changes and furloughs.

The Galt City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the city council chambers at City Hall, 380 Civic Drive, Galt.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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