City Council Told Cost Of Adding Domestic Partner Benefits Would Be $168,000 Or Less

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The cost of extending benefits to city employees with domestic partners is estimated to be in the range of $168,000 per year, City Council members were told Tuesday afternoon.

Todd Dockery, city human resources director, said some private businesses and cities that have added the adding the policy have seen no cost increase. He said it would help the city in recruiting workers.

He said the city of Louisville, Ky, estimated 400 persons would be added for health coverage, but has only 39.

An overflow crowd was at the meeting to give their opinions on the subject. Those opposed got red tickets and those for green tickets. Those whose names were drawn from the pile of tickets got to speak. The two sides took turns in making presentations.

The council plans to vote on first reading next Tuesday and on second reading the following Tuesday.

Mr. Dockery said the proposed ordinance includes both same-sex and opposite sex unmarried partners. It extends to children of the employee's spouse.

Mr. Dockery said his research shows that the cost of providing health coverage to a domestic partner  is not higher than to other employees.

Wade Hinton, city attorney, said there would be an enrollment period next spring and it would go into effect July 1 if it passes. 

Councilman Larry Grohn, noting that the state Constitution and state policy do not recognize domestic partnerships, said the policy gives "tactic approval" to partnerships outside of marriage. Attorney Hinton said the city was not enlarging the definition of marriage. 

Keith Cochran, with a red ticket, read the 10 Commandments to the council and said passing the ordinance amounts to helping achieve the goal of the Communists to break down morality in the U.S.

Pam Rumancik of the Unitarian Universalist Church said those opposing the measure were taking the position that their neighbors should have fewer benefits than themselves.

Anthony Crisp wanted to know why the policy cannot apply to brothers living together or brother and sister. Attorney Hinton said it applies to "non-platonic" relationships. Mr. Crisp said, "I see our City Council trying to implement same-sex marriages in violation of our Constitution." He said the next step would be to recognize multiple partners by Mormons or Muslims.

Michael Gilliland said if the policy is voted down that some city employees would choose to leave and others would be demoralized.

The next speaker said it was the work of the devil and morally wrong.

Jane Edgy spoke of liberty and justice for all. 

Attorney Scott Bergthold said sections of the ordinance, including a section affecting speech in the anti-harassment part, violate the First Amendment. He said if a male city employee who considers himself a female goes into the women's restroom, then a female inside would not be allowed to object. Attorney Hinton said the ordinance covers those who are transgender.

Ann Weeks said, "This is about social justice. Social justice is what love looks like in public."

Tommy Crangle told the council the measure is anti-family and would weaken the family.

Leroy Griffith said the Bible stresses justice, while Robert Boykin referred to the Bible's censure of those "with a reprobate mind."

Perrin Lance called the ordinance "a good thing. This is going to support families and support unity. Spiritually, it is a a very good thing for the city to do."

Sgt. Craig Joel of the city police department said he opposes it "based on a business decision." He said the city was adding an expense, while still not fully funding police officers.

Bryce Current of the Metro Community Church said, "This ordinance is good for Chattanooga" and would help retain good employees.

Click here for the Domestic Partners FAQs, and here for the Domestic Partnership Overview.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADKINS, ANGELA KAY  169 SEAL BEAN LANE DAYTON, 37321  Age at Arrest: 48 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY UNLAWFUL REMOVAL OF REGISTRATION PLATE --- BALL, JEFFREY BRENT  1309 LABREA DR CHATT, 37421  ... (click for more)

County Property Taxes Are Due Feb. 28; Trustee's Office Announces Extended Hours

County Trustee Bill Hullander is reminding taxpayers that Feb. 28, will be the last day to pay their 2016 property taxes without interest and penalty.  The regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. As an added convenience for the taxpayer, the courthouse office and the Preservation Drive office will be open on Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., ... (click for more)

Judge Doug Meyer Lived A Full Life Helping Many

I was sadden to learn of the death of Judge Doug Meyer.  Judge Meyer retired from the Criminal Court bench here in 2006.  Prior to that he had been the Chattanooga city judge for several years.  As a young attorney I tried many cases in front of Judge Meyer.  Also while I was awaiting my case to be tried, I would observe him on the bench.  Judge Meyer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Blackburn Good As Gone

I didn’t know until I read John Adams’ column in the Knoxville News-Sentinel that one person who doesn't personally know UTC Athletic Director David Blackburn said he heard he has a drinking problem. I also didn’t know that “the best thing to ever happen to UTC athletics” had health problems, according to a second person who does not personally know him. It is also being said David ... (click for more)

MVP Howard Leads Bradley To Seventh Straight District 5-3A Tourney Title

Two key Bradley Central scoring sprees spelled basketball doom for East Hamilton in Monday’s District 5-3A tournament championship game at Soddy-Daisy. One, the top-ranked and unbeaten Bearettes (29-0) went on a 15-1 to close the second quarter, building a 37-20 halftime lead. Two, Bradley Central started the third period on a 22-6 run and extended the lead to 59-26 and ... (click for more)

Brainerd Girls, Howard Boys Win 6-AA Consolations

It was consolation night at Hixson High School for the District 6-AA basketball tournament and East Ridge came out on the short end in both games. Brainerd’s girls rallied for a 39-35 win in the first game while Howard’s Hustlin’ Tigers did enough at the end to hold off the East Ridge boys by a 61-57 final. The tournament concludes on Tuesday with both championship games. ... (click for more)