Written by DANIEL OFFNER Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00
Members of the Farmingdale Board of Trustees have approved a provision to its current health care policy that will impact any future hires in the village, restricting vested employees from lifetime health benefits until at least age 55.
At the meeting, on Oct. 7, trustees voted to change the local law, which previously did not limit employees with ten years of service from receiving lifetime benefits, whether or not they retire.
Deputy Village Clerk Barbara Kelly explained that under the previous law, an employee hired at age 20 who is terminated at age 30, was eligible to receive health care benefits for life.
“It doesn’t effect anyone who is already in the vested status,” Kelly said. “It effects anyone going into the vested status in the future.”
According to Kelly, under the new provision, the four employees currently in the vested status will not lose their lifetime health care entitlements, however it will impact benefits for any future employees.
Two years ago, village officials amended contribution requirements for all non-union employees, making part-timers contribute 10 percent, and full-time employees contribute 20 percent of their total health care costs.
For village staff members eligible to receive lifetime benefits at age 55, the contribution requirements will remain unchanged under the new provision, allowing retirees to collect benefits at the current rate of contribution.
However, changes to the policy now require the mayor, village board, justice court and appointed part-time officials contribute the maximum allowed by the New York State Health Insurance Program, if they wish to receive lifetime health care benefits in retirement.
“We no longer get a free ride,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.
Elected and appointed officials, eligible to retire after Jan. 1, 2014, after working ten or more years in the village, must now contribute 50 percent of the cost for individual health coverage or 65 percent of the cost for dependent coverage.
“We’re trying to save the village money,” said Village Trustee William Barnett, who explained that changing the elected board’s contribution requirements alone, will save Farmingdale $34,000 a year.
In addition to revising the health care policy, village officials also approved a provision that in the event a retired village employee does not contribute to their health insurance, the cost will be deducted from their state pension check.