One more time: Supervisors vow no changes to insurance


By Patsy Nicosia

For the second time in a month, Schoharie County supervisors Monday pledged to protect the health insurance for county retirees.
In a 13-2 vote, supervisors agreed to keep the health insurance formula the same for retirees for at least two years.
The vote came at the public hearing on the 2018 budget at which several supervisors denied rumors that changes to the health insurance benefits were being considered.
Schoharie Supervisor Chris Tague reported that the deputy treasurer had called the county’s insurance consulting firm, Gilroy-Kernan-Gilroy, to ask about CDPHP rates for 2018. The firm did not give the rates.
“That was entirely wrong,” Mr. Tague said.
County Administrator Steve Wilson said he was not aware of the incident and would look into it.
“That’s a little bizarre,” he added.
Both board Chairman Earl VanWormer of Esperance and finance committee chairman Leo McAllister of Cobleskill denied rumors that changes were being considered to change the health insurance benefits for retirees.
“There is no plan to take away anything from the retirees,” Mr. VanWormer said.
Mr. McAllister added, “There has been no movement at all to change the health insurance for retirees. None.”
To make sure that there was no change, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton, made a motion to keep the health insurance formula the same for the next two years.
Though supervisors agreed at their October 20 meeting to retain the same health insurance policy, Mr. Skowfoe noted, “I don’t believe anything is ever done with this board.”
Mr. McAllister and Bill Federice voted against the motion.
The audience, which included more than 20 retirees, erupted in applause after the vote was completed.
In October, citing the rising cost of health insurance, Mr. Wilson explained that changes were being considered that would have given retirees and current employees the option of staying with their current plans or moving to a new CDPHP plan.
Retirees said that if the change was made, they could stay with their current health insurance, NYSHIP, but at a much higher cost.

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Schoharie County supervisors heard few concerns about the proposed $78.5 million 2018 budget Monday morning.
Central Bridge resident Ethel Benninger suggested looking at several areas in the budget to consolidate services.
She also suggested looking at the county’s Medicaid transport for visits.
Jeannette Spaulding of the Schoharie County Community Action Program asked supervisors to reconsider cuts in funding to the skills to success and child coordinating services initiative programs.
Middleburgh Supervisor Pete Coppolo asked about pay upgrades in the proposed budget.
Mr. Wilson said there were no upgrades after review by the finance committee.
Mr. Tague suggested that upgrades be made on a case-by-case basis since several employees have not gotten raises in years.
Mr. Coppolo recommended upgrades be across the board.
“I’m tired of hearing how great one group is doing. That’s their job.”
It is difficult to give to one group and not another, Mr. McAllister added.
Mr. Skowfoe noted that though the tax levy is increasing by 1.87 percent, because of equalization rates, the increases in towns will vary widely.
He noted that the increase in Wright would be 12.19 percent while there would be a 14.98 percent decrease in Gilboa.
Supervisors are expected to continue their work on the spending plan at their meeting Friday when they will be given the finance committee recommendations.