County Legislature approves 2-year CSEA contract

"Every negotiation is a give and take and I particularly want to thank the CSEA for their willingness to consider and accept these healthcare concessions," said Majority Leader Gary Hughes. "We are quite likely the only county in the state that has seen a year to year decrease. We were able to sustain that and in turn provide our county employees with a salary increase."

Employees are receiving a 1.5 percent raise for each year, which Gardner said is at the core rate of inflation. The estimated savings for healthcare concessions totals over $1 million annually. Savings for 2011 though would be half the annual amount, because two of the four proposals from the county wouldn't be effective until July 1.

"We negotiated this contract with the idea that Governor Como's tax cap would go into effect," said Gardner. "We think there is a good chance that we will actually reduce our costs even with the pay increases."

Gardner said since 2007's actual health care costs to 2011 budget healthcare costs the county has reduced spending by 4.2 percent. In 2007 the county spent $18.75 million on healthcare and the budgeted amount for this year is almost $17.8 million.

Jason Plank, a Schenectady resident, said he wasn't sold on the idea that cost containment lead to healthcare savings and noted the reduction of county employees.

Former Chairwoman Susan Savage previously touted during 2011 budget talks that the county had reduced 200 non-mandated positions through attrition since 2007. The savings, she said, totaled $10 million.

Gardner touted how the county had become a model for other counties in the state regarding healthcare expenses.

"We are spending less per retiree, while most have seen double digit increases annually," he said. "Schenectady County is probably the most proficient provider of healthcare services in the state of New York, because we spent a lot of time measuring outcomes, negotiating lower rates with drugs companies and our landmark Canadian drug program.""

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