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home : news : news Thursday, April 28, 2016

6/22/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Health stipend for county retirees would cost $10,000 per employee

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

The Clinton County Board of Supervisors will "mull over" a request to offer stipends to cover the cost of health insurance for retiring employees who are not yet eligible for Medicare, board chairman John Staszewski said, although county auditor Eric Van Lancker warned doing so would force an increase in the property tax rate.

The supervisors asked county engineer Todd Kinney to present information on the idea after secondary roads employees questioned if the board would extend an offer similar to that given to sheriff's office employees several years ago.

Kinney said the offer at the sheriff's office was made to two deputies, a sergeant, a captain and a secretary in the sheriff's office, none of whom were union employees.

They received a stipend of $500 per month for 36 months to supplement health insurance costs.

Kinney said the county realized a cost savings with that offer based on the cost of replacing certified law enforcement officers with non-certified correctional officers, whereas it would cost the county around $10,000 per employee if the same incentive were offered in his department.

The cost of the health insurance stipend at a rate of $513 per month is $18,468 over three years, while the estimated savings in salary costs with a new hire is $8,035 over the same time period.

Auditor Van Lancker said the actual impact on the budget will be even worse, because the county would have to set aside additional money each year to cover costs for all eligible employees.

Even if the employees choose not to retire, the county would have to budget for the potential costs, which would impact the property tax rate, Van Lancker said.

"I can't stress this enough. This will increase our liability and increase the tax rate," he stated.

However, supervisor Jill Davisson said she was struggling with the issue as a matter of fairness to other employees.

"I realize there was a cost savings, but is that the only thing I look at? Do I look at one person and say, 'Yes, you can have that' and say to another 'No, you can't?'" she said.

"I don't know the answer. I want to be fair, and yet, I don't want the taxpayers to have an impact on their rate," Davisson stated.

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