KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced Wednesday the city is expanding its employee benefits for qualified domestic partners.
Beginning January 1, 2014, employee medical, dental, vision and dependent life benefits will be extended to same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.
"Last year, we expanded our employee nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This change in our benefits ensures that we are treating everyone fairly," Mayor Rogero said. "It will help us attract and retain the best City of Knoxville employees, regardless of their domestic situation."
Mayor Rogero says staff created the domestic partnership benefits after researching similar benefits offered by other cities as well as Maryville College.
To be eligible for domestic partner benefits, an employee must fill out an affidavit about their committed relationship.
By signing the affidavit, city employees declare under penalty of perjury that they and their partners are at least 18 years old, are not related by blood in a manner that would bar marriage, have a close and committed relationship, and have shared a residence for at least 12 months.
They must also provide proof of three financial interdependence criteria. Some of the criteria include joint ownership of a residence or joint tenancy of a lease, joint ownership of an automobile, a joint bank account, and joint liabilities.
The mayor's office says the change is an administrative one, meaning it does not require a City Council vote.
Employees can begin signing up for 2014 benefits during the city's annual enrollment period, which begins Oct. 23.
Based on the experiences of other cities and organizations, the City Finance Department estimates the new benefits may cost about $60,000 a year, which will be absorbed into the City's current annual benefits budget of approximately $13 million.