After voting down a proposed change that would have phased in payments for Jamestown, Dunkirk, and Westfield, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved a local law amending the County’s Worker’s Compensation Plan.
The local law changes the county administered plan so that costs are now allocated at 60% experience and 40% on wages. Previously, the costs were allocated at 60% experience and 40% property valuation.
Legislator Bob Bankowski proposed an amendment that would have allowed a two year phase in of the plan with proposed allocations the first year based 10% on valuation, 30% wages and 60% experience.
He agreed that the way the plan was set-up has been “broken” for many years and that it needed to be fixed to make it fair and equitable to all taxpayers, “But I just feel that with the amended print two that I proposed, it’s not going to be that drastic an effect on everyone. It phases in over the course of two years and everything should be fine. It gives Jamestown and Dunkirk some time to actually get their ducks in a row and make adjustments in their budget.”
County Finance Director Kitty Crow stated at the meeting that the increased costs to the Village of Westfield will be $7,766; $86,139 to the city of Dunkirk; and Jamestown would see an $157,315 increase in costs. She confirmed in email to WRFA that any municipality with an unusual increase now has the option of an installment payment plan and that this language was intentionally added to allow a phase-in by way of a payment plan.
The amendment proposed by Bankowski failed in a vote of 6 to 12, with Legislators Bob Bankowski, Susan Parker, Elisabeth Rankin, Billy Torres, Paul Whitford, and Dave Wilfong voting yes. Bankowski also made a motion to table the law for further discussion and that also failed 6 to 12.
The local law ultimately passed 15 to 3 with Legislators Bob Bankowski, Susan Parker, and Dave Wilfong voting no.
Finance Director Crow also clarified at the meeting that while the 2023 budget will see a $700,000 savings under Worker’s Compensation, the savings would have happened regardless of whether the Legislature changed how the plan costs were allocated.
Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist stated earlier this week that city is already looking at other Worker’s Compensation firms under the assumption the local law would pass.