News

Cost of living ups most public wages

By JENNIFER CONWAY

Staff reporter

The cost of living is rising, and with it the wages of Langley city employees.

City of Langley employees will see a 2.1 percent cost-of-living adjustment in 2003, according to Mayor Lloyd Furman. That rate is based on that used by the metropolitan area closest to Whidbey Island.

“We use the Seattle area Consumer Price Index,” Furman said.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported a 2.2-percent rise in the CPI for all urban consumers from November 2001 through November 2002.

Pay was not the only issue for city employees. For 2003, Langley City Council adopted a staff recommendation to reallocate employee medical co-pays on a 3.22 percent premium basis per employee rather than a $20 flat fee.

According to city Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Mahler, Langley based its COLA on 80 percent of Seattle’s CPI in 2002. She said because employees are contributing to their own health plans in 2003, Langley will give 100 percent of the Seattle area CPI figures.

Mahler said that when Seattle’s CPI was higher in 2002, COLAS went up by 2.88 percent.

By comparison, town of Coupeville employees received a 2-percent increase in 2002 and 2003, said town Clerk-Treasurer Linda Marsh.

Charlotte Sellin, human resources director for the city of Oak Harbor, employees of that city will receive a 2 percent COLA in 2003, down from 3.51 percent last year.

Sellin said that they have a minimum 2-percent COLA and a maximum 4 percent every year. Oak Harbor’s COLAs reflect Seattle’s CPI, she said.

Island County employees are still waiting to hear if they will receive a COLA in 2003.

“A very few number of employees have received a COLA this year,” said Elaine Marlow, budget director for Island County. “No COLAs have been approved for Island County employees, with the exception of five whose contracts ran through the end of 2003.”

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