The county has reached a new four-year contract agreement with its largest employee union, granting employees represented by the bargaining unit a 1.8 percent annual raise.
The immediate budget impact is an increase in spending this year on employee salaries and $114,291 more in payroll expenses.
The Civil Service Employees Association represents at least one employee in every department of the county, with the largest concentration being in the Department of Social Services, Health and Mental Health. Other unions represent Sheriff's deputies, nursing home staff, dispatchers and jailers and Highway Department workers.
County Jay Gsell said negotiations were much less contentious this year then in rounds past and it took only two or three meetings to arrive at an agreement. He credited the negotiating team from CSEA's Rochester office -- in the past, it's been a negotiator from Buffalo who met with county officials -- for working quickly to get an agreement in place.
The employees voted 158-13 in favor of the contract, Gsell said.
The contract also changes how expenses for health insurance are shared.
Cost sharing between the county and county employees started a few years ago and the employee share was capped at 10 percent of the employee's wage.
The new formula will calculate the share based on the bi-weekly cost of the premium. This year, the employee will pay 10 percent of the premium, then 11 percent in each of the following years and 12 percent in 2019.
The county's healthcare costs, which is a self-funded insurance program, have been going up 3 to 5 percent per year. This formula will distribute those rising costs to employees.
The highway workers are already under a contract with this new language, Gsell said, and the county will seek to get the other three unions to agree to the new terms.
"It's easier for us to be somewhat uniform and also clean up these contracts and the number of clauses," Gsell said. "(The contracts) with health care and compensation, changes get so convoluted at times. It's in our best interest to try and simplify them, but also understand there needs to be more cost sharing between employer and employee. It's the real world."
The pay raise, at 1.8 percent per year compounded would take an employee at $15 an hour to $16.11 in 2019. For an employee at $20 an hour, the rate in four years would be $21.48.
That's an extra $117.60 in pay bi-weekly for the $20-an-hour employee.
If the employee is currently covered by a healthcare plan worth $1,100 per month, and that premium went up 3 percent each year, in four years, the premium would be $1,238. The employee's share would increase from $55 bi-weekly to $74.28.
These are dollars not adjusted for inflation, which is currently less than 1 percent.
The Ways and Means Committee recommended Wednesday that the County Legislature approve the new contract.