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Alexandria considering health care cuts for former town officials

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Citing price concerns, the Alexandria Town Council will consider a local law ending health benefits for about a dozen former town officials at its meeting tonight.

The town’s annual health care costs for 11 former officials and connected dependents is $64,919, according to calculations from Councilman Brent H. Sweet.

“It’s a real big number,” he said. “It affects our tax rate, no question.”

The public hearing will be held at 6 tonight at the town office, Old Goose Bay Road.

Among the people on the plan are former Supervisor F. Sampie Sutton, former town code enforcement officer Stanley J. Parker and former Councilman Douglas G. Williams and their spouses. Others on the plan are former Town Clerk Ellen S. Peck, along with her husband and son, former Councilman Alcid E. Beaudin Jr. and former Highway Superintendent David H. Bain.

Mr. Sutton and the Town Council passed a resolution in 2001 granting health and dental insurance for retired employees, elected officials and their families after 10 years of service. This requirement was upped to 20 years of service in 2009, but Mr. Sutton and Mr. Parker were exempted from that requirement in 2011.

The group is on the supreme plan with the New York Teamsters Council Health and Hospital Fund, Mr. Sweet said. As part of the arrangement, the former officials pay 10 percent of premium costs, with the town picking up the rest.

The cost of the plan, town Supervisor Dale D. Hunneyman said, is something that has to be looked at as the town looks to cut costs.

“We’ve cut positions; we’ve cut salaries so we don’t have to go to the fund balance to balance our budget,” he said. “We’re trying to hold steady and build up that balance for a rainy day fund. Wherever we can save, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Another option would be changing the level of coverage the retired group receives. Mr. Sweet appeared interested in possibly switching the health care of the 11 people to a different type of plan, rather than cutting them off completely.

One plan, which would lower front-end costs and replace them with higher deductibles toward which the town would contribute, could save the town about $50,000, Mr. Sweet said.

Any potential changes for the group would not affect union workers, who can receive money toward premiums based on their years of service, up to $750 monthly, until they become eligible for Medicare.

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