|By Andrew Dowd, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
On Tuesday the
"With all these things there's a growing movement," he said.
A 12-year veteran with the ECPD, Wanta has seen benefits his married co-workers were eligible for but he is not.
Wanta has been in a relationship for the past three years with
"It's just like any other relationship -- you don't meet them and get married right away," Wanta said.
The city's insurance plan is a little better than Brandt's policy, but Wanta said the main interest in offering health insurance to same-sex couples is about getting the same benefits as heterosexual city workers.
"It should be no different because of being a gay couple or straight couple," he said. "It comes down to what's fair and right."
Wanta raised the issue to city officials late last year, and staff have been working recently on a policy and analysis.
But at least one councilman said the timing of the proposed change seems sudden.
"I don't know why this has to be done right now," council Vice President
Cost impacts, details on the insurance plans and comparisons with other
A city memo notes that a family plan costs the city
"Yes, it will cost more, and that's part of the discussion," Werthmann said. "The other part of the discussion is the fairness aspect."
It's difficult to tell how many employees would be impacted by the potential change, but Werthmann estimates it would be less than a dozen.
"It's worth noting that in a year we have that same number coming and going in the plan anyway," he said.
From retirements, people getting married and new employees hired when others leave, Werthmann said the city's health insurance is constantly dealing with changes.
While Duax said the city needs to consider expanding benefits, he said it could instead be part of contract talks with the city's insurance provider next year.
"Yes, I think we need to take a look at it, but I expected this to come up when we renewed our health insurance contracts next year," he said. "Normally you do these things when you're trying to set up the criteria of your new plan."
In addition to cost impacts for the city, Duax said it could have a bearing on the
However, other local units of government in
"We're not re-creating the wheel by any stretch of the imagination," Werthmann said.
He added that the city's current insurance provider --