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Workers’ comp costs shifting to localities

October 10, 2013
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

Municipalities in Fulton County will have to start paying for workers' compensation insurance next year.

Earlier this year, Fulton County government shifted the costs from the county to the localities.

Members of Gloversville city government said Tuesday they were surprised when Gloversville Commissioner of Finance Bruce Van Genderen announced how much the city now will have to pay for workers' compensation.

The cost to Gloversville will be $175,527 in 2014.

The city received a Sept. 20 letter from Fulton County stating, "Please transmit your payment ... to the Fulton County treasurer as soon as possible after January 1, 2014. In accordance with New York state, the payment is due by the end of January each year."

All of the cities, towns and villages will pay for their share of the Workers' Compensation Insurance Fund of Fulton County next year, based on an apportionment formula. The city of Johnstown will pay $110,761, the town of Johnstown will pay $49,045 and the town of Broadalbin will pay $41,482.

Previously, the county paid for all of the municipalities' workers' comp costs and included them in the county budget.

Van Genderen on Tuesday said changes the county made to the workers' compensation law in August pushed the costs from the county onto individual municipalities.

"Now, needless to say, this will have an adverse effect on our budget," Van Genderen said.

The municipalities have until the end of January to pay for the workers' compensation insurance.

Previously, Fulton County would factor the cost for workers' compensation in the county taxes.

However, the state suggested the county instead pass the costs along to the municipalities

in the county.

The New York State Comptroller's Office suggested Fulton County follow the approach of other counties and change the procedure.

"This is what the New York state comptroller

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recommended," Stead said.

Counties often provide services to municipalities and bill for them. The state takes these chargebacks into consideration when calculating a municipality's tax cap. The calculation can reduce or raise the cap for the municipalities.

The change may increase county government's state-imposed tax cap, but lower the tax cap for the cities and towns, depending on how the budget is handled.

Fulton County government will pay $566,524 for its own workers' compensation in 2014.

Linda Kemper, Northampton town supervisor, said the county Board of Supervisors voted for the change because of the state comptroller's recommendations.

Northampton will have to pay $20,975.

Kemper said the town will have to figure out how to budget for this change.

"We are in the preliminary stages [of our budget]," Kemper said.

She said the town could increase taxes, make cuts or use money from the fund balance.

"It has to come from somewhere," Kemper said. "... Anything that is passed over to us is a burden on taxpayers."

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said he was frustrated the city's supervisors did not inform the city about the issue. Both King and members of the city council said they were unaware of the change.

"I'm going to take a greater effort to get out to the supervisors meetings. I just wish they had picked up a phone to say 'hey, how does this [action] sound?'" King said.

"To take out another $175,000 a year, I would think the county has been doing this since 1956 maybe, why change now?" King said.

Van Genderen said the city would need to find the money from the city's fund balance or by raising taxes or making budget cuts.

 
 

 

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