The Chautauqua County Legislature will vote on amending the County’s Worker’s Compensation Plan, which, if passed, would result in higher payments for Jamestown and Dunkirk.
County Finance Director Kitty Crow explained at the Administrative Services Committee meeting on May 16 that the county administers a municipal plan with the current plan costs allocated based on 60% experience and 40% on property valuation, “We would like to move to a model that allocates the 40%, that is allocated based on valuation to an allocation that’s based on wages, which is really more relevant when assessing charges for such a plan as Worker’s Comp Insurance essentially. So, we’re not proposing any change to the experience factor, so that would remain at 60%
Crow said the change between wages and valuation was dramatic for four municipalities in the county, with the town of Chautauqua seeing a large decrease.
She said while their property valuations are high around the lake, their workforce is much smaller, “In the Village of Westfield, they actually have a couple of things that drive up their wages, such as paid police as well as paid utility workers. And so their wages are a little bit higher as a percentage total compared to valuation. And then the two cities would also see an increase under the new formula because, you know, their wages as a percentage of total was more significant.”
Crow said under the wage based formula, the City of Jamestown would have been charged approximately $275,000 more in 2022. This is because the city’s share of total property valuation is 4.5% of the total whereas the city’s share of wages is 19.2% of aggregate wages. Crow added that 25% of all claims over the past five years are attributed to the City of Jamestown.
Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said his administration has been in contact with the County in regards to this possible law change, “This is obviously an increase to the City’s budget. We’ve asked the county to be able to spread those costs over, to amortize them, which has happened in the past. But more importantly it’s a time for the City to look at other options.”
Sundquist said he’s already met with different Worker’s Compensation firms to start investigating options.
The County Legislature’s meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the Legislative Chambers of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville. It is open to the public and will be livestreamed on facebook.com/ChautauquaCountyGovernment.