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Council discusses raises, health insurance

Diane Xavier | 9/30/2013, 7:36 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

The Dallas City Council voted 9-6 to award civilian employees a 3 percent merit raise at its briefing meeting held on Sept. 18.

They also approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget of $2.8 billion.

The merit increase is based on performance review which means a pay increase is tied to a worker’s performance review.

“I support each and every employee of the city of Dallas,” Councilmember Dwaine Caraway, District 4, expressed. “We have 50 percent of people working for the city of Dallas that live elsewhere and are not necessarily coming here to spend their money or taxes. I am a proponent of the city of Dallas and its civilian employees and also encourage for employees to live in the city they are working in such as Dallas. A merit shows that you are trying to do better rather than showing up to work to get a paycheck. There are some city employees that drive to work just to get off. A merit will free people to get up and do a better job.”

Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzales agreed.

“We believe it’s a way to send a message to managers to award your top performers,” Gonzales said.

Councilmember Carolyn Davis of District 7 was one of six members who voted against the measure.

“I work harder than anybody and I don’t have a pay increase,” Davis said. “Our process is not a good process. I worked in the system where a merit increase was not fair to all and I know this first hand.”

The Council also voted in favor of an ordinance amending chapters 13, 18 and 24 of the Dallas City Code to provide a convenience charge for payment of municipal court fines, fees and charges through the Internet by debit card and also adjust charges for residential sanitation collection services and adjust fees and charges for public library services.

They also approved an ordinance which set the tax rate at $.7970 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Davis requested that the Council address the needs of South Dallas as well.

“I ask that we can look at a way to do something about illegal dumping in the southern part of the city,” she said.

The main presentation given to the Council at its briefing meeting regarded

the Affordable Care Act. Signed into law in March 2010 by President Barack Obama, the act requires everyone to have health insurance by March 2014.

Open enrollment for ACA is Tuesday and the city is preparing to launch the Enroll Dallas program to get uninsured and underinsured residents enrolled in the plan.

Gonzales said the city is trying to make citizens aware of the program.

“There is a great need in our community to implement it and get the word out,” he said.

Brett Wilkinson, who is coordinating the effort with the city of Dallas to get the word out about the ACA, said Dallas and Texas is behind when it comes to

getting people health insurance.

“Dallas and the state of Texas have some of the highest uninsured rates in the country,” he said. “On Oct. 1, the marketplace will open which will provide the opportunity for individuals and families to shop around for affordable insurance and at the end of March next year, everyone will be required to have insurance.”