The city of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department estimates it faces a $60,000 per month increase in costs due to the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA requires employers with more than 200 employees to enroll their employees automatically into the organization’s health insurance plan, though workers may opt out of coverage. The ACA became law on March 23, 2010, although full implementation of the law takes effect this year.
Leroy Eadie, the city’s parks director, recently told the park’s board finance committee that he’s expecting an increase in cost of $60,000 per month. He says the ACA could send costs as high as $100,000 per month. The increase takes effect this year and will continue in subsequent years.
“Due to the nature of the seasonal work in the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Division, we employ nearly 550 of what is classified as temporary/seasonal employees,” says division spokeswoman Monique Cotton, in an email response to a Journal reporter’s questions.
She says, “Approximately 10 percent of these temporary/seasonal employees work with the city for more than six months out of the year and for more than 30 hours per week. Therefore they are eligible to receive health benefits under the Affordable Care Act.”
The department’s annual average budget is $22 million per year. Parks staff is currently discussing ways to secure additional funding to cover the increased expenses. There’s no discussion taking place now about cutting back on the use of seasonal employees.
Doug Chase, head of the Spokane County Park, Recreation and Golf department, says it also will see increased costs due to the Affordable Care Act. The county parks department has an annual budget of around $7 million, he says.
“It’s not nearly as high for us as it will be for the city,” Chase says. “The city has more developed acres that require more personnel. Our estimate for calendar year 2015 is that we will see an increased cost of between $7,000 and $11,000 per month.”
Chase says the temporary positions both the city and county fill annually play a significant role in the maintenance of upkeep of their respective parks and golf courses.
“They’re critical to maintenance in the way the public has come to expect,” he says. “This act has been very challenging for employers to interpret, quite frankly.”
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