The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Advanced life support will be discussed
Fredericksburg City Council will ask the fire and rescue chiefs to meet with it as part of deliberations about adding two advanced life support medics to the city payroll in the fiscal 2014 budget.
Councilman Fred Howe expressed concern during a work session Tuesday about whether volunteers with the Fredericksburg Rescue Squad were sufficiently consulted before the city manager recommended adding the two positions, which will cost the city $134,800 in salary and benefits.
He said he was concerned about offending the volunteers and shutting them out of the ability to serve city residents.
Councilwoman Kerry Devine said the proposal to add two positions to the paid staff is merely the next step in a years-long process aimed at providing service to the city for advanced life support needs on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.
She said she understood the interest of volunteers in getting opportunities to respond to emergencies since some of her children have served as volunteers. She also said she shared Howe’s perspective that volunteers are valuable to the city, but she said they have been consulted along the way.
Fire Chief Eddie Allen and Troy Payne, head of the Fredericksburg Rescue Squad, will be invited to a future work session.
Tuesday was the first work session for the council since City Manager Beverly Cameron presented his budget proposal on March 12. A series of work sessions are planned, with the next one scheduled for March 26.
The council is expected to discuss specifics of the general fund at that meeting.
Cameron’s fiscal 2014 proposal calls for a 3-cent increase in the real estate tax. If approved, the rate would rise to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value.
That increase would mean another $76.86 in taxes for the owner of a home at the median price of $256,200.
The budget includes 3 percent raises for city and school employees. That would be broken down into a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and 1 percent to cover required contributions to the state’s retirement system.
Also on Tuesday, Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley reviewed a new health insurance plan that would be an option for current employees and the only offering for employees who begin as of Jan. 1.
That “High Deductible Health Plan” would shift from the current non-deductible plan to one in which a single employee would pay the first $2,000 of health care costs except for preventive care.
However, Whitley said the proposed budget recommends the city pay the first $1,000 for a single employee.
The plan would include a health savings account that would be exempt from federal taxes and could be carried over from year to year. It also would have lower premiums but a higher out-of-pocket maximum.
Whitley also said the city wants to launch a salary study since one hasn’t been done in more than six years.
At Howe’s suggestion, the council agreed to include constitutional officers in the study.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972