Cedar Falls cuts part-timers' hours to avoid insurance costs

2012-11-28T10:00:00Z Cedar Falls cuts part-timers' hours to avoid insurance costsBy JON ERICSON, jonathan.ericson@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Many part-time permanent employees in Cedar Falls will see their hours cut this week so the city can avoid offering health insurance.

To avoid future costs under the federal law often referred to as Obamacare, the city is cutting part-time employees who work 32 hours per week down to 29 hours.

The city has 59 permanent part-time employees working 32 hours per week. None are eligible for health insurance through the city now. However, one part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will require employers to offer insurance to part-timers working 30 hours or more.

The change in the law does not take effect until January 2014, but when it does it will include a look-back period to determine who is eligible. Cedar Falls Administrative Services Director Richard McAlister said the look-back period can be as short as three months, but the city will opt for a 12-month period so seasonal employees will not qualify. Hours are averaged over the entire year.

McAlister said if all 59 employees whose hours will be cut were to take advantage of the health insurance it would cost the city $855,000 per year.

"If we were to leave their hours the same we would potentially be looking at laying off 25 to 30 employees," McAlister said.

McAlister said while the law may account for the added expenses faced by private employers who have to provide insurance for part-time workers, public employers would be hit harder because insurance premiums are usually lower or free for public employees, and they would be more likely to take the insurance.

In Waterloo, Mayor Buck Clark said he has not yet evaluated the city's options. Waterloo human resources manager Cheryl Huddleston said the law will probably affect only a handful of city employees, as many part-time workers are already eligible for health plans. The city is researching the issue.

Cedar Falls has relied more on part-time workers in recent years as it looks to contain spending and minimize escalating costs of benefits, including health insurance and pensions.

The Courier has heard from some city employees who fear the reduction in hours could mean some well-qualified employees would leave their positions and the city's services would suffer.

McAlister said the city will likely have to hire some additional part-time workers to account for some of those hours lost. He said he understands how employees feel.

"I think the employees were obviously disappointed," McAlister said. "It's something we can't contain, and we felt the best decision was to spread the impact out among the employees rather than lay people off."

The majority of those affected work in the human and leisure services and public works departments.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(31) Comments

  1. Dave88
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    Dave88 - December 04, 2012 3:40 pm
    Government makes the rules business cities etc adjust. It's always easy to play back seat driver and make judgements.
  2. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - December 04, 2012 8:18 am
    Easy. It's all government money. Next we'll hear the airport should be shut down to make up for Obamcare's impact on CF city jobs.
  3. unigrad2008
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    unigrad2008 - December 04, 2012 4:11 am

    I'm thinking its the opposite. Bad news for US of A is good news for Democrats!

  4. reojoe
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    reojoe - December 03, 2012 2:52 pm
    You can't kid me: of course you're enthused.

    Bad news for America is good news for republicans, bottom line.
  5. nobodyspecial
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    nobodyspecial - December 03, 2012 6:07 am
    Not sure how the $73 million dollar school comment has any connection to this story? The city of CF is not looking at building a school. The employees affected work for the Park Department and Public Works Department of the City of Cedar Falls. They do not work for the Cedar Falls Community Schools. The schools are not operated nor governed by the City of Cedar Falls!
  6. momofthree
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    momofthree - November 30, 2012 10:11 pm
    no, they did not.
  7. momofthree
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    momofthree - November 30, 2012 10:09 pm
    cut these people's hours and then ask the citizens to build a 73 million dollar school???

  8. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 3:34 pm
    So not one of those 59 affected would ever get a better job elsewhere if it were offered?
  9. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 1:15 pm
    Which was the intent of Obamcare all along.
  10. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 11:04 am
    Not really.
  11. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 11:04 am
    Criticizing Obamacare?
  12. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 11:03 am
    The heck with finances.
  13. Copperhead
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    Copperhead - November 29, 2012 11:03 am
    Don't confuse sarcasm for enthusiasm. Actually, my point has been illustrated. A government body led by a democrat has done exactly what Republicans and private enterprise have been accused of doing. The democrats claim to be champions of the "little guy", yet a government body is hurting their employees while claiming they are being good stewards for the taxpayer. All they are doing is shifting the cost of health care to the federal level which we all pay.
  14. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 11:03 am
    Wrong about blue zones. And thank you Obamacare.
  15. reojoe
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    reojoe - November 29, 2012 9:49 am
    Thanks for illustrating my pernt: bad news for America is good news for republicans.

    Next time, try to harness your enthusiasm for people failing a tad bit more.
  16. thebigguy128
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    thebigguy128 - November 29, 2012 9:48 am
    Seems to be the law of unintended consequences biting someone! Remember, we have to pass it to see what is in it?
  17. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 8:23 am
    Character has nothing to do with it. In CA 3 major cities have declared bankruptcy. Did their admin have character?
  18. xdfred2
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    xdfred2 - November 29, 2012 8:22 am
    Wrong. Obamacare is to blame. The answer to a question that was never asked. The crisis program to solve a crisis that didn't exist. These are the consequences. People react to new laws. So do businesses. Should have left well enough alone.
  19. nobodyspecial
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    nobodyspecial - November 29, 2012 6:08 am
    It shows the charactor of the people running the City of CF. They are forced to make the tough decisions like this when it comes to being the conservators of the taxpayers money. There is no manufactured product like a tractor that can be increased in price to cover added expenses. As the article said, CF was already operating in the "save the taxpayers" money mode by using part time staff versus full time employees. Thats why they hire so many part time, to save employee costs and keep the budget as lean as possible. That's just plain good stewardship when it comes to utilizing taxpayer dollars. Cities, counties, companies, bussinesses, etc. did not create this issue; but they are stuck now making unpopular decisions. The Blue Zones is not a city operation, it is it's own organization staging out of a vacant, available city building. I've never noticed CF putting out an aura of better than average, but I have noticed a lot of people that make those types of statements. I think it comes from people outside of the City of CF, who continually want to promote this premise. It's actually good for CF to be placed on a higher plain so to speak. it is actually a compliment that outsiders view the city as better!!
  20. unigrad2008
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    unigrad2008 - November 29, 2012 3:57 am
    Penalties for what Rush? There is nothing illegal being done here.
    Everything okay at home Rush????

  21. miked
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    miked - November 28, 2012 9:31 pm
    The city cuts the income of 59 loyal employees while spending thousands of dollars promoting Blue Zone? Bah! Humbug!


  22. GloriaJL
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    GloriaJL - November 28, 2012 8:06 pm
    Shame on you Cedar Falls. You are no better than WalMart. Cedar Falls always puts out the aura that they are better than average. Guess not.
  23. momofthree
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    momofthree - November 28, 2012 7:39 pm
    Doesn't say much that is good about the character of the people running Cedar Falls.
  24. Copperhead
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    Copperhead - November 28, 2012 7:29 pm
    Oh yes, hope and change has come home to roost. Those evil Republicans! Oh wait, the mayor of CF is a democrat.
  25. BIL
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    BIL - November 28, 2012 6:59 pm
    Good point!
  26. JanInWloo
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    JanInWloo - November 28, 2012 6:05 pm
    This seems like a conflict with being a Blue Zone Community.
  27. jd2004retiree
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    jd2004retiree - November 28, 2012 2:54 pm
    My personal opinion it is pure example of GREED!!!! BUT.... it will happen all over from now to 2014. Keep an eye on what good 'ol John Deere does between now and 2014!!!!
    Hang on to your shorts time!!!
  28. muhammadli
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    muhammadli - November 28, 2012 1:30 pm
    Those are elected officials, elected by people like you, and if not you then a majority of people. If the majority of people don't like it... they can change it, nobody can stop them.
  29. RoseAlexandra
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    RoseAlexandra - November 28, 2012 1:01 pm
    If the Affordable Care Act has insufficient provisions to help local governments address this issue, that's certainly a failing. But nothing is preventing Cedar Falls from giving its part-time employees a modest raise to offset their lost hours. Also, a technical note: employers are NOT REQUIRED to provide insurance to employees who work 30+ hours. But if they opt not to provide insurance, they have to pay a tax to offset the cost of the employees getting tax credits to help pay for insurance (http://www.healthcare.gov/using-insurance/employers/large-business/index.html#provide).
  30. reojoe
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    reojoe - November 28, 2012 11:52 am
    I hope that this gets amended to add penalties to weasels who do this.

  31. muhammadli
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    muhammadli - November 28, 2012 11:39 am
    Capitalism will always find a way.
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