More questions than answers at budget workshop

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) Unlike elsewhere Augusta workers haven’t seen an increase in health care premiums in years, but that could change next year.

“Our employee premiums haven’t been raised in the six or seven years so, so the cost of increase we have to endure that,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.

Along with a five percent increase in premiums workers would also endure

a 300 dollar deductible for hospitals stays, an increase in co-pays, including 100 dollar increase for a trip to the emergency room.


All of this coming at a time when the budget is recommending pay raises.


“It almost seems like now we’re saying well give you a salary increase but you’re deductible is going to increase as well so we need to see the long term benefit of these increases,” says Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Davis.


The Administrator says her office is making sure employee raises wouldn’t be offset by raising health care costs.


“You would be looking at a little less than five dollars increase per pay period and we certainly hope any increase in pay would amount to more than that,” says City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson.


City consultants say the health care recommendations would save 400 thousand dollars, however the recommendation is to increase spending on the employee wellness program by even more.


“The wellness program today I just learned  four or five hundred thousand dollar increase  we might be saving one area, or saving in another area but in the end of the day it’s all our taxpayers money,” says Commissioner Sean Frantom.

Commissioners agree to hold another budget work session on health care Friday, after failing to get answers to all the questions they had today.


“Little frustrating this is one of the things in this government we’ve got to change we’ve got to get more hardcore numbers when we’re sitting up here voting,” said Commissioner Frantom.

The administrator pointing out that the wellness program expansion will not be paid for by employees paying more for their health care but rather from savings from the prescription drug plan where the city is saving about 700 thousand dollars,

I asked the city administrator if she was surprised city leaders wanted another meeting on her health care recommendations she said she’s never surprised.

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