Thornton city staff outlines military benefits plan

Posted

Thornton officials are finalizing plans to amend a city code to provide financial and health benefits to city employees who serve in the military when they are called to active duty.

The revised proposal, which was presented during the City Council’s March 19 study session, would amend the city’s personnel code to provide extended military leave benefits, including salary and health-related benefits, for a maximum of five cumulative years.

Deputy City Manager Charlie Long said the new proposal dovetails the Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which was designed to protect non-full-time military-service members in civilian jobs when they are called to active duty.

The law, Long said, allows for an employee serving in the military to be re-employed in his or her civilian job, if the employee leaves that job to perform service in the military for a maximum of five cumulative years.

The federal act also allows civilian employees in the military to elect to continue existing health insurance through an employer-based plan for up to 24 months while in the service.

Long said narrowly tailoring the city’s personnel code after the federal act will clarify specific limitations and send a clear message that the city benefit is not intended to cover employees who may decide to pursue a military career.

The long-standing intention, Long said, is to provide a continual income and benefit source for those employees serving under typical deployment periods and their families.

“It protects the city from an incident where somebody takes a job with the city with an unspecified condition of employment,” Long said.

“In the event that somebody is called in for duty for 10 or 15 years and maybe not against their will … the city could find itself in a position where … they are obligated to continue the program for anyone receiving the benefit.”

Fewer than six city employees have been deployed for an average of two and a half years since 2001, he said.

The second reading of the ordinance will be during the council’s April 9 meeting, 7 p.m. in council chambers, 9500 Civic Center Drive.