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Employment Benefits

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Employment Benefits

There are many good reasons for working at the City of Bellingham.  The work is rewarding and you have an opportunity to serve your community.  Another good reason is the great benefits that the City offers its employees.  

The City’s excellent and comprehensive benefit program  includes medical, dental and vision coverage for employees and their dependents, plus life insurance for employees.  The package includes generous paid leave provisions, including vacation, 12 holidays per year and sick leave.  City employees participate in the Washington State Retirement System with joint contributions by the City and the employee.  The City of Bellingham also offers an Employee Assistance Program, and employees have the option of participating in a Flexible Spending Plan for health care/dependent care reimbursement, as well as deferred compensation programs.

An overview of our employment benefit programs are provided below.  Please note benefits do vary depending on bargaining unit affiliation and employment status.

Health Benefits


Full Time Regular Employees:  Health benefits for employees and their eligible family members begin the first of the month after employment starts.

Part Time Employees:  For part-time benefited positions, the City provides health benefits for the employees only.  Employees may purchase coverage for their eligible family members for medical and vision coverage through pre-tax payroll deduction.

Medical Plan

The City’s employee medical coverage is provided through the Association of Washington Cities.  Employees choose between a Regence or Group Health plan.  Both plans offer comprehensive medical coverage.  Depending on which medical plan options the employee and their bargaining unit have selected, there may be an employee contribution towards the plan premiums.

After retirement, access to retiree medical and dental insurance for is available to eligible employees.  Eligible employees may opt to self-pay for retiree coverage through the Association of Washington Cities.

Dental Plan

Dental coverage for most employees is provided through a Washington Dental Service plan.  Fire and Police personnel choose to have dental coverage through their specific bargaining unit.

Vision Plan

Eye glasses and contacts are provided through a vision plan, using a network of providers from Northwest Benefits Network.  Fire and Police personnel choose to have vision coverage through their specific bargaining unit.

Flexible Spending Account

The City offers a Flexible Benefits plan, based on Section 125 of the IRS regulations.  This allows employees an opportunity to annually defer pre-tax income into an account, which is then used to pay uncovered health expenses or child care costs.

Life Insurance

Eligible employees are covered by a fully paid life insurance.  The amount of coverage varies, depending on bargaining unit.

Long Term Disability Insurance

Covered employees are provided with fully paid Long Term Disability Insurance with a 60% benefit and a 180-day waiting period.  Fire and Police personnel receive their Long Term Disability benefit through their respective bargaining units.

Paid Leave

Vacation, Holidays, Sick Time
The City offers generous paid leave:

Retirement Benefits

The City offers a wide variety of plans to assist employees with saving towards retirement   Some retirement plan, such as PERS and LEOFF, have mandatory enrollment for eligible City employees.  Other plans, such as our 457 deferred compensation and Retirement Health Savings Plan are optional.  Please read below for additional information.   


All eligible City employees join the State of Washington’s Department of Retirement Systems pension plans.  Police Officers and Firefighters become members of LEOFF, while eligible regular employees become members of PERS.  Both plans require employee and employer contributions.  

Retirement Savings Plans

Employees may elect to participate in the City’s 457 deferred compensation retirement savings plan.  Contributions to this plan are made on a pre-tax basis, with employees choosing their level of contribution.  457 deferred compensation funds are portable to and from a private sector 401(K) plan, IRA’s, and other tax sheltered retirement plans.  Some City positions, depending on bargaining unit affiliation, provide a match to employee contributions.

In Closing

Come join us at the City of Bellingham.  Your benefits go way beyond what’s listed above, including the satisfaction that comes with serving your community.  We hope to see you soon!

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