by Dan Voigt
'Tis the season for budgets and salary negotiations and the process for the latter began Monday morning at the Palo Alto County Courthouse. The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors and representatives of the county's Secondary Road Workers union met for the formal public exchange of salary proposals for the next contract period.
Renee VonBokren of VonBokren and Associates of Des Moines represent the supervisors, while Local 2003 of the Public Professional and Maintenance Employees and representative Mike Scarrow of Clear Lake represents the road workers.
In their initial proposal to the county, the union requested a change in the sick leave provisions, allowing for a conversion of six months unused sick leave to one day of vacation time from a 12-month period of unused sick leave. Additionally, a proposal was made to change the vacation benefit to four weeks after 15 years of employment, rather than 19 years, and a proposal that all employees received five weeks of vacation after 20 years of employment.
The union also proposed a six percent increase in salary, effective July 1, for each of the next three years.
The county's proposal included credit for one day of vacation if no sick leave were used from July 1 to December 31, and another day of vacation if no sick leave were used between January 1 and June 30. An additional proposal called for a change in annual hours of leave entitlement to 80 hours.
The county also proposed a change to health insurance. Currently, the county pays the full premium cost for all full-time employee health insurance. The Supervisors propose the county would pay 95 percent of the premium for single health coverage and 80 percent of the premium for family health coverage for full-time employees. Under the county proposal, the employee would be responsible for payment of all deductibles and co-insurance amounts.
The supervisors also proposed no change to current salary levels for the employees.
After the public exchange of the proposals, the two sides will enter into negotiations that are, under the Code of Iowa, exempt from the provisions of the Iowa Open Meetings law.