The Republican minority of the Albany County Legislature is sounding an alarm over a new health insurance benefit.
Albany County Legislature Minority Leader Frank Mauriello, of Colonie’s 27th District, says on July 8th majority Democrats passed Resolution number 217, which offered an unfunded health insurance benefit designed to retain employees. "What this legislation did, was it shortened the time for vesting upon retirement received full health benefits from 20 years to 15 years. The reason this was introduced, according to the sponsor, was to help attract employees to the county. Well, on our rules with the legislature, any legislation that is submitted for consideration, if it has a financial or fiscal impact of $5000 or more, it needs to have a fiscal impact statement accompany it. This legislation did not. There was no fiscal impact statement submitted. That was brought up in committee as to why it was not submitted."
Mauriello says Comptroller Mike Conners, a Democrat, was asked to, but never provided, a review of the resolution. Conners says the measure did go for a vote and was passed... "...26 to 11 with bipartisan votes in favor, so, if they want a formal fiscal impact, the folks that are responsible to give that to them are the human resources department, which they did, and actually I've got a copy of what that impact was given to the Republican minority."
Mauriello pointed out that County Executive Dan McCoy, a Democrat, never responded to a letter of concerns, allowing Resolution 217 to become law without comment after 10 days. "The County Executive didn't want to veto the resolution because it passed by a veto-proof margin."
County Attorney Dan Lynch wrote a memorandum to all of the legislature’s leaders, questioning "the language (of the measure) and its intended beneficiaries." Again, Mauriello: "In his memo it says the costs have not been calculated and considered by the legislature. And since no formal fiscal impact analysis was provided for these reasons I recommend that the resolution be amended to address this issue."
Albany County Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce, also a Democrat, says there are several issues involved, including the number of employees that would be affected, and the cost. "In terms of determining the cost, to put an exact figure on it will be very difficult, and it'll be even more difficult to project what the cost may be. i wouldn't even say that we have a ballpark figure. We just don't have the capability to do that right now. But I think part of the assessment will be, you know, if we do for once group of workers, what are we doing for the rest? I expect that to be part of the discussion moving forward."
Conners, who is leaving office after 25 years, says long-term, the county could save by forming a health insurance consortium. "We could put together a large group and save enormous premiums for our smaller cities and for our smaller towns and for all of the six villages."
Monday night, members of the minority conference introduced a resolution to rescind Resolution 217. Again, Joyce: "I've referred it to our personnel and audit finance committees where they can further address it and look at it on its merits."