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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 8, 2011
Westerlo Town Board gets grants, talks health insurance
By Zach Simeone
WESTERLO Money was made and spent at Tuesday’s town board meeting. This was the last meeting at which councilmembers Robert Snyder and Jack Milner attended as town officials, along with Town Clerk Gertrude Smith.
After reporting that the town had received the long-awaited $225,000 in state grant money to cover the purchase of the Westerlo School and its renovation into Town Hall, the town board voted to spend $190,000 to repair the damage to Tan Hollow Road from Tropical Storm Irene. The town may take out a loan to cover the cost of making the repairs, depending on how soon it gets aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and how much.
The board also decided not to pay for Smith’s health insurance, as she had requested, after she retires from her job as clerk at the end of the year, though she will be serving as deputy to the next clerk, Kathleen Spinnato.
“There wasn’t a formal vote,” Supervisor Richard Rapp said Wednesday, “but that’s how it was. She’s not going to get her health insurance.”
The issue was discussed for months, as some in town thought that, because Smith served as a town employee for 26 years, she should continue to receive health insurance, paid for by the town, after her retirement. It also became an election issue. Rapp said in October that the town pays close to $1,400 per employee per month for those on family plans; according to the adopted 2011 budget, the town spent about $420,000 on employee benefits this year between the general fund and the highway fund, and costs are on the rise.
Thomas Diederich, Westerlo’s fire chief, asked if there were lower-cost options for giving health insurance to town employees who are on Medicare.
Said one woman in the audience, “We’re on Medicare, I’m still working, and it’s about $100 a month.” She then asked Smith if she was on Medicare; Smith replied that she was.
Planning board member Gerard Boone asked the town board if it looks for the best health insurance policy.
Councilman Edward Rash replied, “I believe we have a broker, who supposedly takes our needs and shops it.”
In other business at its Dec. 6 meeting, the town board:
Scheduled its end-of-year meeting for Thursday, Dec. 29, at 7:30 p.m.; and
Thanked Smith and councilmen Milner and Snyder for serving in town government. With regard to Snyder’s 48 years of serving the town, Councilman Rash joked, “You must have an ulcer this big,” holding his hands in the air as if carrying a Thanksgiving turkey.