Hearing set on workers’ compensation law

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing at its meeting Monday on a possible change in county law that could eventually hike the county’s state tax-levy cap calculation for 2014.

The board’s regular meeting begins at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building, with a public hearing on the law change at 1:30 p.m. at the County Office Building.

The state sets a tax-levy cap for each municipality to meet for their annual budgets based on information submitted by the municipalities. This is the third year the state has imposed its 2 percent tax-levy cap on municipalities, although the final figure often varies higher or lower. Fulton County will submit information on chargebacks and other data to influences the state Comptroller’s Office’s final cap decision.

“We don’t even have it all together yet,” county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch said Friday.

But Kuntzsch said the hearing will be on how Fulton County is considering changing its 1956 Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Plan law, the net effect could lower the state tax-levy cap calculations for the county’s cities and towns. The legislation may also increase the county’s final tax cap calculation.

“It shifts the expense for Worker’s Comp,” Kuntzsch said. “Instead of being under the county, it will be under the expense of the towns.”

The move is being made because the state comptroller feels Worker’s Compensation Plan coverage is a cost to each municipality and should be in the tax cap calculation for each municipality, not just the county, officials said. The state comptroller’s office is coming up with new interpretations on how to compute the tax cap for municipalities and that’s where the Worker’s Compensation plan comes into play as a chargeback.

According to the state comptroller’s website, counties often provide services which they chargeback to municipalities. They can bill municipalities for those services. The state takes chargebacks into consideration when calculating a municipality’s tax cap, and that can reduce or raise the cap.

Later in Monday’s meeting, supervisors will be looking to created a new local law amending the county law from 1956. That 1956 law administered the Fulton County Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Plan and the amendment revises the payment method for participants.

The state comptroller is recommending Fulton County follow the approach of other counties and change the procedure for collection by billing the annual chargeback to the municipality in January each year, as prescribed by law. Each municipality would budget for the annual expense within its own budget, and the change would be effective for the 2014 Worker’s Compensation apportionment.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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