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IF city employees concerned over benefit plans

City employees in Idaho Falls may have to pay into their benefit plans for the first time.

It all depends on what the city council decides this Thursday.

Some employees, like police officers, say a move like this could motivate them to look for work in other cities.

The city’s human resource office says this proposal stems from tight finances and in the long run, it’ll save the city money.

“Employees themselves would still be covered by the city; but if they choose to have dependents on the health care plan, whether it be spouses or children, they would pay a percentage of the premium for those dependents,’ said April Collier, HR Director.

And the way the proposal sits right now, that contribution for dependents would be 5 percent.

Idaho Falls police officer, Kyle Christopherson, says year after year the employee benefits plan gets worse even though employees have been contributing — just not through their paychecks.

“We’re supposed to get a 3 percent cost of living increase every year,” said Christopherson. “Over the last 10 years, it’s only been 0-1.5 percent with the remainder going towards our insurance benefits.”

Christopherson says a move like this would entice officers that the city has invested thousands of dollars in, into leaving.

“We’re having a problem attracting and retaining top talent and the city deserves better than that and the employees deserve better than that,” said Christopherson.

“I don’t think we’re going to make everybody happy,” said Collier. “No matter what decision we make, we’re just not going to make everybody happy.”

The city has two unions, one for firefighters and another for electrical workers.

Those groups negotiate their benefits and pay. Since the electrical workers have finished their negotiations, this decision won’t directly affect them. However, the firefighters are still in negotiations.

The city council will meet Thursday night at 7:30 at the City Hall Annex to make a decision.

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