Alameda County Supervisors Approve Contribution for Taxes on Retiree Health Benefits
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a $23.7 million contribution to a fund that pays taxes on health benefits for about 6,000 retired county employees, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The board had declined to contribute to the fund since 1996, citing concerns about a conflict of interest because supervisors and retirement board members are eligible for the same retiree benefits as county employees. However, County Counsel Richard Winnie concluded that there is no legal conflict in the board approving the contribution.
In related news, the board of supervisors and the Alameda County Employees Retirement Association are continuing negotiations over the county's request for $2 million from ACERA as reimbursement for the county allowing retirees to enroll in the same health benefits programs as current workers, who are generally younger and healthier. County officials say premiums for current workers increase as a result of including retirees in the benefits plans.
County Administrator Susan Muranishi and other county officials have said that ACERA should reimburse the county annually for retiree-related costs if the county continues to include retirees in health benefits plans offered to current workers. Alternatively, Muranishi has proposed separate premium rates for current and retired employees.
According to the Times, the idea "concerns" ACERA in part because of the possibility of increased health care costs for retirees (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 7/27).