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City digs out of $20 million hole, but cuts healthcare benefits for retirees along the way

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When City Manager Sarah Moyer-Cale took office in mid-September, she had two months to solve the city’s $20 million deficit in pension and post-employment healthcare liability.

But the solution would not come from tinkering with the budget or cutting a few staffers. The city needed to make millions of dollars appear from thin air.

And, as former interim city manager Gregg Guetschow said, that called for something drastic.

“There are no good choices here,” he told council in August. “…I don’t have any more rabbits to pull out of the hat. There are no miracles here. You have bad choices. And you have worse choices.”

On Nov. 10, council decided to strip previously promised post-employment health care benefits from retirees. They cut off spouses and dependents along with Medicare-eligible retirees from its health care plan. The city will offer the Medicare-eligible people a $100 monthly stipend to contribute to a new insurance plan.

“I realize we’re not going to make everybody happy, I realize that there’s going to be some turmoil,” council member Jacquie McLean said. “But I feel like we need to make the best decision moving forward for our municipality so that in the end, we get out of debt quicker.”Before Moyer-Cale […]

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