Hartford Opens Gym For City Employees After Talk of Layoffs, Tax Increase
By Jeffrey B. Cohen
May 28, 2009
As the city council prepared today to finalize just how high taxes will go, the third floor of City Hall was getting a new amenity.
Cityline is waiting for details. But two days after he warned city department heads that layoffs could be coming, Chief Operating Officer Lee Erdmann told Cityline that the city is paying for the gym as part of its effort "to encourage employees to get physically fit." He said it could help reduce long-term health costs the city pays for its employees.
Two councilmen said they had no idea a gym was being installed.
After a quick visit to the third floor, frustrated Councilman Pedro Segarra said the city's taxpayers may be the "only ones ... with our own gym along with a very high tax increase."
Councilman Matt Ritter said that, while he could stand to tone up a bit, a gym is not worth the taxpayers' money.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: Here's a statement from Santiago Malave, the city's director of personnel.
"The third floor exercise room is part of the City's goal to promote health and wellness and focus on a healthy workforce. Studies show, on average, there's a 4-1 return on this investment in regards to less absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced workers comp claims and reduced medical claims costs. The approximate cost of the center is $18,000 from monies received from the Travelers Workers Compensation Program. No general fund dollars are being used to transform this former lunch break room into a workout environment. All city employees are welcome to use the facility during their lunch hour or before and after work after completing a liability waiver. The official announcement to employees will come during tomorrow's kick off of the City's Health Insurance Open Enrollment, Benefits and Wellness Fair."