College Park approves utility credit for employees

College Park employees and retirees, who live in the city, will continue benefiting from a credit that gives them a break on their utility bills.

Mayor Jack Longino and the city council decided to keep the credit for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The credit covers a portion, or all, of an individual's utility bills, which include water, sewer, storm water, garbage collection and electric, said College Park Spokesman Gerald Walker.

"It is wonderful," said Walker. "It is certainly a sense of pride that the city can provide its employees, who live inside city limits, with this benefit."

Regular, full-time employees, and retirees, get up to $200 per month in savings with the credit. For regular, part-time employees, the credit is up to $100 per month, said Longino.

He explained that both a full-time worker and a retiree can save up to about $2,400 annually with this credit.

"It is an initiative to try to get employees to live with us," said the mayor.

It would be complimentary for employees to be residents of the city since they "are getting their money from citizens of College Park," he said.

College Park resident, Terri Allen, said it is nice that the city is making the utility credit available to employees, which makes living in College Park more attractive. "I think employees should get it, because I think they deserve to get something," she said.

Councilman Joe Carn said tough decisions had to be made for the budget, but the city still wants to assist its employees in some way. The balancing decisions included cutting raises and Christmas bonuses.

"We are trying to shrink the staff .. . but trying to help the staff that remains," said Councilman Ambrose Clay, during a recent council meeting.

"I think this council has done a good job with the budget this year," added Longino.

Longino said the city has been providing this utility credit for about 12 years. It is voted on every fiscal year, to give the mayor and council a chance to discontinue, it if necessary, he said.

Spokesman Walker added that utility services for College Park residents derive from the city's Power Department and Public Works Department.

Longino explained that employees required to live in the city include councilmembers, department heads and himself. The rest of the city's staff can live wherever they please. The mayor and council, however, can't benefit from this credit, he added.

"I am glad we are able to do that for employees of the city," said Longino. "It is a great benefit to them."