Health insurance costs are over budget, council overrides objections

The Amsterdam Common Council voted 4-1 at Tuesday’s meeting to override Mayor Ann Thane’s two objections to changes to the city’s budget that have been passed by the council.

Thane a made a last-minute appeal to the council to amend their $400,000 decrease to the city’s self-funded health insurance line. Before the vote, Thane asked Controller Matt Agresta to give a report on the actual health insurance costs for the current fiscal year.

Agresta said that the current 2014-2015 budget for the city’s contribution to the health insurance plan was approximately $4.1 million. He said that expenses have gone over budget by approximately $721,000.

Later, Agresta said the city is obligated to pay health insurance claims to both city employees and retirees whether the total costs exceed the budgeted amount or not. He said any difference will have to be made up by transferring funds from other budget lines across the city’s six different funds or if necessary, by appropriating fund balances.

The council reduced the $4.5 million figure proposed in the mayor’s budget in two separate changes, one reducing the expense line by $300,000, the other by $100,000. The mayor’s objection specified the $100,000 reduction. Her second objection was to an increase of $40,000 to the proposed $950,000 transfer from the water fund to the general fund.

“We were already short this year,” said Thane, “I would really ask that you would consider this amendment with the health insurance. At least take this $100,000 out of here.”

After the request, Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said “no” and the other members remained silent. The council then voted 4-1 to approve the override, with Alderwoman Valerie Beekman voting no.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.