"We believe this going to save the town significant amount of money in future years," said Koetzle. "What we can't calculate yet, is what we saved from avoided cost by lowering our base cost. Now that we have lowered our cost into a base plan that 15 percent increase next year is going to be lower than if we have that richer plan."
Moving forward, the Town Board will designate a base plan for the town, which will be the least benefit-rich and expensive plan for town employees. There is also an opt-out provision in the contracts, which differ the two contracts. Currently, an employee can receive 42 percent of the town's most expensive health insurance plan if they choose to opt-out of coverage, costing the town $6,600 each time, said Koetzle. Now highway employees max out at $3,000 cash payout and CSEA members will be able to receive 42 percent of the base plan.
"This severely limits our exposure to increasing health insurance costs and cash payouts," said Koetzle.
Retirement requirements have also been changed, which were an employee had to be 55 years old and five years of service could retire and receive heath insurance.
The new requirements, which are based on a points scale that includes adding the person's age and years of service, will have current employees retiring at age 55 and a minimum of at least 15 years of service. This requirement would total 70 points to be eligible to retire, but for each point under 75 the employee will pay an additional 2 percent of their health insurance, which is 10 percent at 75 points. Also, new employees would not have at least 75 points to retire, which would be minimum of 55 years old and 20 years of service. For each point under 80 though, new employees will have to pay an additional 3 percent of their health insurance costs, which is 15 percent at 80 points.
When and how the PBA union contract will be reached is still unclear.
The town is currently in mediation with the PBA, which has an independent mediator provided by the New York State Employment Relations Board to help both parties reach a settlement.
"We are still hopeful the PBA will come to an agreement," said Koetzle.""