BROOKSVILLE — The union that negotiates the contract for 400 Hernando County employees traded pay and benefit proposals with the county Monday, the eve of the County Commission's first discussion of the 2013-14 budget.
The Teamsters union in July opened talks, seeking a 6 percent pay raise, arguing that the proposal would give workers 1 percent for each year since the last pay raise most employees received.
The county's chief negotiator, Russ Wetherington, opened the discussion Monday by offering a 6 percent increase in what the county pays toward an employee's health insurance, 3 percent pay raises across the board and a commitment to form a joint committee to work on a new pay step plan for 2015.
Wetherington told the Teamsters 3 percent was chosen because the management team thought it might be acceptable to a majority of commissioners.
The Teamsters originally had sought full reimbursement for the increase in health insurance premiums — from the current $340, $400 and $450 to $360, $430 and $480. The county instead offered $360, $424 and $477.
After a caucus, the union accepted the county's insurance offer and countered with 3 percent pay increases for employees who make $20,001 or above and 4 ½ percent for those who make less.
John Sholtes, the Teamsters business agent, told the county's team that it was important for the union to help workers making the least.
"We have a righteous intention here,'' Sholtes said, adding he doesn't know how some workers pay their bills.
"It shouldn't be that much of a fiscal impact that it's going to break the bank,'' he said.
Wetherington said he would be in a better position to respond after county commissioners have discussed the budget and pay raises.
The budget workshop is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. today.