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Santa Rosa council reduces layoff benefits

Employees laid off from the City of Santa Rosa next year will get a less generous benefits package.

Under a plan approved by the City Council Tuesday, laid-off workers will get one week off to look for work, one year of financial counseling to help them through their transition to a new job, and a smaller COBRA health care benefit.

The 2009 federal stimulus program, or American Relief and Recovery Act, allowed the city to subsidize COBRA benefits for workers for up to 15 months. Now the stimulus money has dried up, and the benefit level is dropping back to its previous level of four months of COBRA.

The cost of the four-month COBRA subsidy is about $2,600 per employee, the counseling costs $36 per employee, and the week off would cost the city an average of about $1,000 per employee.

City Manager Kathy Millison's budget calls for the elimination of 34 positions next year, resulting in 7.5 layoffs from the city's approximately 1,200-strong workforce. The other positions are unfilled.

The city council approved the package without discussion Tuesday.


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