By PHIL NOBILE
Future elected officials and management positions in the town will not reap the same medical benefits as those of current management or officers of Harrison thanks to recent alterations to its policy.
According to the modifications passed by the Town Council at its Jan. 16 meeting, all management or elected personnel added to the town payroll after Jan. 1, 2013 will receive identical benefits to that of the local CSEA union which received new contracts with the town in October 2013. The change comes as another cost saving measure in what Town Councilman Joseph Cannella, a Republican, described as a changing environment.
“We’re in an evolving landscape, without question,” Can-nella said. “The federal legislation makes it more uncertain as where we’re going to line up as a culture. All employers need to evolve with the times if we’re going to be able to have sustainable programs.”
Specific changes to benefits for both the management and elected officials and unions include a requirement of the employees to pay 25 percent of healthcare costs for the first 15 years of their service. Similar to the CSEA and Teamsters agreement, employees are not guaranteed healthcare for life after the 15-year period as town employees hired, or elected officials taking office, prior to Jan. 1, 2013 currently enjoy due to the uncertainty over future healthcare costs.
Also, like the other agreements, new employees and officials will not be entitled to medical buyouts or Medicare Part B or Part D reimbursement, which deals with covered pay for physician services and medical supplies not covered by Part A and subsidized prescription drugs. Current employees and elected officials are entitled to the buyouts.
When asked about the potential savings for the town thanks to the changes, Cannella described the amount as “inconceivable.”
“It’s a blind estimate, and we don’t know what healthcare will ultimately cost for each year, so all we can do is budget for it,” Cannella said. “[Costs will be] far more favorable to the town, but, in terms of levels of benefits provided, they’re very competitive and fair and consistent with what is being offered.”
Harrison has nine elected officials and 29 departments covering numerous aspects of Harrison life. According to Cannella, not every management personnel or elected official uses the benefits offered, and some sign-on with their respective family plans.
Two town unions remain without contract: the Harrison Fire Department and the CSEA Foreman.
The Police Benevolent Association renewed its contract in 2012.
In 2014, Mayor Ron Bel-mont, a Republican, will make $155,376 with the remaining Town Council members making $16,834 stipends along with their respective benefits. Both the town clerk and receiver-of-taxes will receive $99,069 in salary.