Editor's Note: The following is a press release from the North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley reprinted in its entirety.
With taxpayers facing the worst economy in 40 years, North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley today called on town hall employees to forgo the controversial health insurance buyouts as a good faith effort in reducing the town’s newly projected $300,000 dollar deficit for 2009.
Recently, these employees received another set of checks totaling over $34,000, which is only half of what they would receive in 2009. The 2009 budget projects some $68,000 to cover such payments reflecting a 33% increase in the code.(Hospital & Med Ins $207,000 in 08 to $275,000.)
With layoffs inevitable in dealing with this deficit, it seems sensible to ask these employees to make some sacrifices instead of asking taxpayers to pay higher taxes for health insurance buyouts, especially to allow such buyouts for people who were never enrolled in the insurance program, stated Ashley.
Ashley noted that the union contract contains provisions which defy public sensibilities and includes managers in the bargaining unit who should be separate and distinct from the employees under their supervision. Because they were included in this bargaining unit, they are eligible to receive these buyouts at a considerable cost to taxpayers. They budgeted buyouts are equivalent to a 6.8% property hike. Also, people were allowed to opt out of the insurance program who were never enrolled in it to begin with. This cost taxpayers money instead of realizing a 50% savings on a previously paid premium.
The lack of management in town hall under Supervisor Evers and this Board is astonishing, stated Ashley. Evers placed himself on the town insurance without eligibility or authority costing taxpayers at least $10,000 in premiums over two years until he was forced off. Yet the town Board members refused to force him to reimburse taxpayers and they refused to force the contractual engineer to reimburse some $20,000 in premiums he improperly received on Evers watch.
“It seems everyone in town hall has their hands in our pockets or is looking the other way at totally improper and unlawful payouts of town money insuring people at public expense.” When the Board is forced to order layoffs in the union ranks, no one should forget the failure of the union to meet the taxpayers halfway by forgoing payouts taxpayers cannot afford.