Commissioners searching for solution to budget problem - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners searching for solution to budget problem

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Albany- For many years, some retired city employees' health insurance premiums were paid from the pension fund, something the city attorney sees as a huge problem.

In 1997, the city's pension plan had a surplus and commissioners decided that the plan should pay for retiree's health insurance premiums.  Now, the city attorney says that's not a good idea and that money must begin coming from the general fund.

Commissioners say the new cost will be a tremendous hit to the budget. "Next year the projection is another one and a half-million dollars hit to the general fund to pay for those retirees health insurance premiums and as everybody knows health insurance costs are skyrocketing so that number keeps going up," says city commissioner Bob Langstaff, Jr.

 In 2002, an actuary advised the pension board to make some changes to the policy back then over a period of five years but nothing was ever changed.  The same solution was suggested again but the commission says it's a problem that needs immediate action.

Tuesday, commissioners approved a budget transfer of $250,000 to start covering costs of the health insurance premiums. They're still not sure where the rest of the money will come from.

The commission also voted to amend the city's current pension ordinance. New employees hired after January 2006 will be required to contribute 4% of their salary toward their retirement plan.

posted by len.kiese@walb.com