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New details on same-sex city worker benefits in Pueblo

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Sep 17 2012 10:48:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 17 2012 11:25:56 PM CDT

City Council discusses issue after tabling discussion a week ago.

PUEBLO, Colo. -

Eight city employees and $54,000 annually is the minimum impact to Pueblo if it grants benefits to same-sex couples, according to city staff.

That information was presented by Greg Styduhar, assistant city attorney, and Marisa Walker, human resources director, during a work session of the Pueblo City Council on Monday night.

Styduhar and Walker projected an annual cost of $54,059 based on a cost sample of eight employees, and $78 for group life insurance.

The council heard the presentation and commented on it afterward.  The issue was not up for a vote, and there was no public comment.  The council tabled the matter a week ago, upsetting a large group of people supporting the proposed Domestic Partner Benefits ordinance.

On Monday, only a handful of supporters attended the meeting, none of whom were city employees.  Among the proponents was Daneya Esgar of Colorado Progressive Action.

"City employees have emailed me, personally, telling me about how this would change their lives and make their lives better," said Esgar.  "This isn't a gender issue, it's a workplace issue.  (The ordinance) is offered for those who need it, want it and are willing to come forward to ask for it."

Esgar said determining exactly how many gay employees the city has is difficult, and they're uncomfortable about making their sexual orientation public.

"Not all city employees who may be gay, mark a box when they get hired," she said.  "We don't really know how to reach out and find the gay city employees."

The council hasn't determined how the city would pay the additional cost for same-sex benefits.

"What happens if we have a large baby boom?"  asked council member Chris Nicoli.  "Do we put a pot in there that we're padding into the budget?"

Fellow council member Steve Nawrocki said, "I think (the ordinance) brings us in line with our (non) discrimination policy in the city.  So I think it's important that we pursue it."

Public hearings will be part of the process. 

Esgar said she hopes the council will approve the ordinance before Oct. 22, when the city's open enrollment program for employee health insurance begins.

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