Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

December 11, 2013

Kalkaska struggles to pay retiree health care

(Continued)

“It ran out because they weren’t hiring full-time people to keep the fund going,” said Shafer, who worked for the Department of Public Works.

Rising insurance costs compound the problem.

“Nobody anticipated insurances costs going up so high over the past five to 10 years,” said Village President Jeff Sieting.

Village officials said they must re-examine the original agreement to determine if they can find wiggle room as they try to address health care costs.

“We’re trying to find out what our options are and what the legal status is of that fund,” Hill said. “They’re basically looking at everything about this, how it started, what the intent was, how many people are on it, examining it in detail.”

Village members also are looking into alternative health plans for their retirees, Hill said, and are trying to ascertain how the Affordable Care Act new national health care plans could factor in to their future.

But retirees contend village officials want to cut them off from health care entirely.

“What they say now is the contract we had drawn up years ago, it’s not fair the village has to support the fund because the fund has run out,” said Shafer. “They’re trying to say the contract we had years ago is null and void.”

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