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Proposed cuts upset residents

Nearly 100 turn out to decry cost-savong measures

— Sandra Arnold Spaulding of Greenfield told supervisors at the meeting she worked 25 years for the county and took early retirement last year mostly because of the great health care benefits. She is counting on the Medicare to supplement her insurance when she becomes eligible.

“We sacrificed our salaries for this insurance,” she said. “I have been retired for less than one year now, and I'm already struggling.”

David Johnson of Malta spoke on behalf of his wife, a retired county employee. He said the new co-pay would be 20 percent of her pension, calling the proposal “unreasonable.”

Another man said the Medicare Plan B had originally been added to the county insurance plan to supplement the insurance provided by the county. He said if the co-pays are not reimbursed, many retirees will just drop the plan, which will raise premium rates for the county in the long run.

“He’s probably right,” said Wood in an interview after the hearing.

A Labor Relations Specialist with the Civil Service Employees Association, Mike Nixson, said at the meeting any attempts to cut benefits would be met “with swift and stiff legal challenges from CSEA.”

“For the county to be contemplating breaking these contractual benefits for retirees, who are most likely living off fixed incomes, is truly regrettable,” he said

Attendees urged the board to oppose the costly mandates placed on counties and school districts by the state, calling the “illegal.”

“It’s time for us to stop accepting these unfunded mandates. Raising taxes is not the solution,” said Lisa Donovan of Ballston, adding that if the county sued the state, other counties would follow suit.

Wood said the mandates were half the reason the county has a budget issue in the first place. “Suing isn’t plausible, but we should certainly lobby our legislators to change the laws and get this burden off the backs of the counties.”

Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett called cuts to facilities like SPAC a “drop in the bucket” compared with the overall budget and expects restorations to be made in the final budget. Wood agreed.

“I feel there are larger areas where we can derive significant savings and revenue,” said Barrett, citing the landfill and possibly the Maplewood Manor Nursing Home. “I want to concentrate on those areas and hope the board goes in the right direction.”

A final vote on the budget us scheduled to take place at a Dec. 14 meeting.

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