HANOVER - The change in the way workers' compensation will be billed to towns, has left officials in a tough spot for balancing budgets.
Recently, Hanover Budget Officer Elmar Kiefer sat in on a webinar from the state comptroller's office on the tax cap. He reported someone asking about the change in workers' compensation from a chargeback to a direct bill.
After getting further information from a representative at the comptroller's office, he said the county can do this but it does not decrease the county budget or increase the town's budget in the eyes of the tax cap law.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Hanover Budget Officer Elmar Kiefer (center) explains the town’s dilemma with the new workers’ comp billing problem to the town board. At left is Town Councilman Fritz Seegert and Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo is on the right.
"I was hoping the comptroller would say this would decrease the county's budget and the town would take the increase but the law that was passed did not make room for exceptions or changes like this," Kiefer said.
He said the representative said the best course of action in this case is to pass the tax cap override and increase the budget accordingly. He said the town will have to ask taxpayers to understand there will be an increase in the town taxes this year, however it is up to the county whether their county bills will decrease, making the situation a wash.
"It will depend on the county what residents pay," Kiefer said.
Hanover's workers' compensation bill from the county is $61,000 this year. Kiefer explained after the one-time increase in the budget to absorb the new cost the town will no longer need to increase the budget drastically for this because it will then be incorporated into the total budget.
However, Town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro warned there has been talk of other expenses which are currently billed in the same charge back fashion which may be changed in the near future.
Kiefer said he is still doing research into self insurance but has to consider the amount of time required to give notice to the county to withdraw from its plan and also the buyout required to switch with ongoing workers' compensation cases.
Later, Town Clerk Janine Salzman presented the tentative budget to the board. Resident Anna Frederickson asked about raises in the budget.
Supervisor Todd Johnson explained there is a 2 percent increase in pay included for employees, however board members decided to take a pay freeze for the eighth year in a row. Johnson said there is also no change in the amount (10 percent) employees pay for health insurance.
The board passed a resolution calling for a public hearing on the budget for Oct. 22 at 7:45 p.m. in the town hall. The tentative budget is on file in the clerk's office for viewing.
The board also passed a resolution calling for a public hearing on fire protection contract for Forestville District 1, Forestville District 2, Irving and Perrysburg. The first four contracts are for three years at a 1.5 percent increase and Perrysburg is for a one year contract with a 1 percent increase. The public hearing will also be held Oct. 22 at 7:35 p.m. in the town hall.
In other business:
The board said goodbye to Water/Sewer Superintendent Harold Anger, who sat at his last meeting after 32 years with the town. Town officials thanked him for his dedication to the town and water/sewer district customers.
Johnson proclaimed the week of Oct. 7-13 as Fire Prevention week and encouraged practicing escape routes and supporting fire services.
Residents from near the cell tower attended the meeting asking about discussions with Crown Castle, the owner of the tower. Johnson explained there are no plans for co-locating more antennas and recent work on a cement pad and a back up generator were coordinated with Anger to avoid utility lines in the area.
Highway Supervisor Steve D'Angelo reported no progress on a permit from the DEC to do a drainage project in Sunset Bay. He said he does not think work will be able to be done this year because of the delay.