Mansura drops council raises; puts employee raises, health benefits on hold


    A $1 per hour raise and town-paid health insurance benefits should be “put on hold” while the town revisits its 2015-16 budget, Mansura Mayor Kenneth Pickett told the Town Council at its Sept. 14 meeting.
    Town Attorney Alissa Piazza Tassin said the council would need to go through the ordinance process to rescind any previously adopted ordinances concerning employee raises and benefits. It was unclear whether the council had ever adopted an ordinance approving the raises and health insurance benefits or merely put those expenses in the 2015-16 budget. 
    Pickett said the council needs to review the budget because it appears the projected expenditures exceed the anticipated revenues. 
   An ordinance to discuss the current budget was introduced at the meeting. A public hearing was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.       The ordinance will be on the Oct. 12 council agenda to approve any necessary amendments to the budget. 
    The council unanimously voted not to consider any increase in the aldermen’s monthly pay until next year. An ordinance to increase the monthly pay from $200 to $300 was on the meeting agenda.
   The council had discussed paying 100 percent of the health insurance premium for its full-time employees. It had accepted a proposal to provide that coverage for a little over $70,000 a year and had budgeted $80,000 to cover any contingencies.
   Pickett noted at the meeting that no contracts had been signed. The question was raised at the meeting as to whether employees had been “promised” the raise and insurance benefits, or if those issues had only been discussed.
    Tassin said she will review information on the employee raises and benefits issue and provide an update at the public hearing.
   In addition to the raises and benefits issues, Pickett said the town needs to put a freeze on spending on its abandoned houses program, health clinic building renovations and sidewalk replacement project.
  In another budget-related issue, the council transferred $200,000 from sales tax accounts to the General Fund to pay monthly expenditures.
   In past years, the town made payments for allowable expenditures directly out of the two sales tax accounts, but that procedure was changed this year so that all expenditures must be paid out of the General Fund, Pickett said.
   Since General Fund revenues are unable to cover all of the town’s operating costs, sales tax funds need to be transferred into the General Fund so those bills can be paid, the mayor explained.