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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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Jersey City could save $3 million by changing retiree health benefits

Updated: Monday, December 13, 2010, 4:34 PM
Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City retirees will have to give up the traditional health care plan or pay the difference in the premium under an ordinance being considered by the City Council this week.
?This proposed ordinance would result in a $3 million savings this year and every year forward,? Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said in a statement.

All of the union workers were transitioned off of the traditional plan through recent contract negotiations and non-union employees were taken off the plan in November.

?We?re looking at every possible way to save taxpayer dollars and this seemed prudent, since all city employees have already been transitioned from the more-costly traditional plan to the direct access plan,? Healy said.

The ordinance is up for discussion at tonight's caucus and is listed for a first reading Wednesday.

In a memo to City Council members Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis said if the ordinance is approved, all retirees would be automatically enrolled in the new plan Feb. 1, unless they elect to pay the difference in premium costs for the traditional plan.

?This provision is not subject to collective bargaining but retirees will be duly educated and informed of the change,? he wrote.

While City Council members may be willing to back a $3 million savings, the retiree benefits issue is part of a larger ordinance that has caused much debate among the nine members.

The ordinance would also require new city employees to work at least 20 years in the city in order to be eligible to retire with lifetime benefits.

At the Nov. 23 City Council meeting, four ordinances pertaining to lifetime benefits were pulled from the agenda for further tweaking. One required workers to put in 25 years with the city, another 20 years, a third 15 years and the final ordinance set no minimum, but corrected the language to take out the state health benefits plan, which the city withdrew from several years ago.

The city has had no years of service limit, just a requirement, set by state law, that retirees have 25 years of service credit in the state or local retirement system to retire with benefits.

Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop has pushed for the maximum 25 years saying taxpayers shouldn?t have to pay for benefits for workers who haven?t spent the majority of their career in Jersey City.

Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano suggested 20 years and At-Large Councilman Ray Velazquez suggested 15 years.

Fulop said today he still stands by his 25-year proposal and feels that removing retirees from the traditional plan is a seperate issue that shouldn't be included in the lifetime benefits ordinance

Posted on: 2010/12/14 16:15
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Re: City council hears comments on how long employees should work to retire w/ lifetime health benefits
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Posted on: 2010/11/11 9:13
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Re: City council hears comments on how long employees should work to retire w/ lifetime health benefits
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Jersey City union members protest lifetime benefits ordinance

Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 8:10 PM
Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal

Standing before the Jersey City council members, screaming into a microphone, Jersey City Firefighters Union President Joseph Krajnik said an ordinance that would limit lifetime health benefits to workers with 25 years of city service violates his contract.
?I ask now on the record that this be pulled until such time as we can adjudicate this matter in PERC or the Superior Court or Appellate Court or the Supreme Court of New Jersey because that?s where this is going,? he said. ?No one violates my contract.?

Joseph Delaney, president of the Police Officers Supervisors Union, echoed Krajnik's concerns and said he would be consulting his attorney tomorrow. The union and city have been unable to reach a contract and are going into binding arbitration.

Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop proposed the measure, which would only apply to new hires. He said 25 years was the city?s policy until a state law changed making it the city?s right to set a minimum requirement. Fulop said since that time, Jersey City has had no requirement.

?You can serve in any city or municipality in New Jersey and end your career in Jersey City and the taxpayers of Jersey City would pay the cost of your benefits for the rest of your life,? he said.

The City Council moved to table the issue, which was planned before Krajnik delivered his impassioned speech, to add a clause that would allow workers to include time at autonomous city agencies.

In addition to adding that clause, which is significant enough that the ordinance needs to be reintroduced and advertized, Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis said he was preparing a second version that set a 15 year limit at the request of Councilman Radames ?Ray? Velazquez.

Velazquez is not alone in thinking 25 years is too much. Ward D Councilman Bill Gaughan has said he felt 25 years would preclude experienced municipal employees working in other towns from applying for jobs in Jersey City.

But several residents that stood up during tonight?s public hearing said 25 years is what they want.

?You knew we were coming into tough financial times,? resident John Seborowski said. ?I?m not sure what you did to try and cut back expenses. This is a start for the future. If this ordinance is passed with anything less than 25 years, I have to say it seems like people are trying to help out their friends.?

Ward D Councilman Bill Gaughan, who previously suggested 10 years, said he could settle on 15. He said 25 is too much and would detract experienced municipal workers from applying for city jobs.

?I think we?re putting the city at an extreme, extreme difficulty in trying to replace key personnel that leave our city,? he said. ?It?s going to be very difficult for us to attract qualified people.?

He said someone with 10 or 15 years of service is going to come to Jersey City and work another 25 years before retiring with benefits.

?We?re not going to be able to get the people with experience that is necessary,? he said. ?We?re going to get people out of college, first year job, no experience, because we?re tying the city?s hands.?

The item is expected to be back on the agenda at the next City Council meeting in two weeks.

Posted on: 2010/11/11 6:38
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City council hears comments on how long employees should work to retire w/ lifetime health benefits
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City council will hear public comment at tonight's meeting on how long city employees should work before being able to retire with lifetime health benefits

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
By MELISSA HAYES
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The public will get to weigh in tonight on how many years city employees should work before retiring with lifetime health benefits paid for by Jersey City taxpayers.

But the item likely won't be adopted at tonight's City Council meeting, after council members debated aspects of it during Monday's caucus.

The major roadblock is the inability of council members to agree on the limit. What the council does agree on is the desire to add a clause that would include employees of autonomous city agencies, a significant enough change that the ordinance would have to be readvertised and reintroduced at a later meeting.

Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop, who introduced the measure last month, is pushing for the maximum 25 years, saying that was a long-standing city policy prior to state law changes in 1999 and 2001 that allowed workers to combine service in various municipalities.

Fulop said getting lifetime benefits on the backs of taxpayers shouldn't be easy.

"I think if we're talking about all the tough decisions here, this is 25 years that it was before it was amended by the state. This is something very expensive for the taxpayers," he said. "This should be difficult to obtain."

But Ward D Councilman Bill Gaughan, who has suggested 10 years, said he's concerned 25 years is too much.

He said Fulop's proposal would make someone with 10 or 15 years of service elsewhere come to Jersey City and work another 25 years before retiring with benefits.

"We're not going to be able to get the people with experience that is necessary," he said. "We're going to get people out of college, first-year job, no experience, because we're tying the city's hands."

Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano wants to set the ordinance at 20 years. He also wants military members who leave Jersey City to serve their country to be able to buy back their lost years in the pension system when they return to city employment.

Councilman at large Ray Velazquez wants to set it at 15 years.

"We can't go from one extreme to another," he said. "We can't say zero years to the max. We need something that is going to pass."

Gaughan said he would consider 15 years.

At least one council member agrees with Fulop. Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson argued for the maximum.

"We are hard-pressed to sit here and say that people who have these positions are the only ones who can do it. That's part of our problem," she said. "We don't train anyone to do anything."

The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St.

Posted on: 2010/11/10 20:53
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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Mayor Jerramiah Healy......does not believe in the 25 years of service only with the city as it ?might preclude the city? from hiring employees from other municipalities with expertise for various positions.


Healy keeps rolling out that same excuse all the time. By now, we should have nothing but Rhodes Scholars and Nobel Prize winners running this place....

Posted on: 2010/10/25 13:17
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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Ironic the person quoted in the paper is one of the biggest loads in the city, Mr. Harry ?Chuck? Carol is the prime example for what is wrong with government. Has no real job and gets paid with our tax dollars to represent a union?


+1

Chuck Carol is a moron. And Jack Kelly is a complete weasel and an incompetent. How did the City ever pick him ?

Posted on: 2010/10/24 22:12
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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Sadly, it seems like the more corrupt you are in this town, the more likely you are to get re-elected. What amazes me is that the people that get the most screwed are the ones that continually elect the same people that are screwing them.

Posted on: 2010/10/24 17:13
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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I would like to know if this is the standard throughout the State, or if public employees just come to Jersey City prior to being put to pasture so they get these benefits? If it is a reciprocating agreement across all the municipalities in the State then while not loving the idea, I guess it can be seen as par for the course.

Posted on: 2010/10/24 16:29
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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As usual, Mr. Fulop is correct.

Too many hungry mouths suckling at the
municipal teat. Eventually the milk dries
up and the sucklers get weaned. Not in
JC, evidently. This is a free-loader's
paradise if you can get hooked into
the system.

Tax payers should be getting tired
of this by now. My house tax has
gone up 3 grand in the past two years.
What for?

Posted on: 2010/10/24 15:31
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Re: Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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Chuck Carol, head of Local 246 of the Municipal Employees Union, which represents over 640 full-time administrative employees, and a 33-year city employee. Carol said he believes the ?tacking? policy should be stopped.

?It is patently unfair to people like myself and others,? Carol said. ?Why should we pay Mr. Kelly?s pension after he has been here for only a few years??


Ironic the person quoted in the paper is one of the biggest loads in the city, Mr. Harry ?Chuck? Carol is the prime example for what is wrong with government. Has no real job and gets paid with our tax dollars to represent a union?

Resized Image


Mr. Fulop, get rid of all these no show jobholders as well.

Posted on: 2010/10/24 15:13
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Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees
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On the attack against ?tacking?
Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees

by Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter Staff Writer Oct 24, 2010

ATTACK ON TACKING ? City Councilman Steven Fulop wants to put a stop to the practice known as ?tacking? and is doing so with an ordinance scheduled to be introduced at the upcoming City Council meeting on Wednesday.

When Jersey City government employees retire from their jobs after 25 years of service, they have been able to get lifetime health benefits. But the little-known fact is that employees who have actually worked for the city for only a short time but have accumulated 25 years of government experience in other municipalities also get those benefits.

Now City Councilman Steven Fulop wants to put an immediate stop to that practice, known as ?tacking.?

Late last month Fulop tried to amend a council resolution addressing the shifting of healthcare benefits from a traditional plan to a newer plan which would require all retirees to have at least 25 years of accredited service with the city without any exceptions. The resolution was withdrawn to incorporate the language Fulop was pushing for. At the Oct. 13 council meeting Fulop had his amendment resolution placed on the council agenda but again it was withdrawn.
_____________

?They should support this change as it will save money and it is the right thing to do.? ? Steven Fulop
________

Fulop said last week the resolution will be reintroduced by the council as an ordinance at the next council meeting for this Wednesday. The meeting will be held at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m.

Fulop said although he will not be able to stop those who already benefit, he wants to make sure that the ?tacking? process ends with new employees. He cited as a ?blatant? example of who benefits from ?tacking? is business administrator John ?Jack? Kelly, who worked for the city of Orange for 21 years before he was hired for his current position in May. If Kelly puts in another four years, he will qualify for lifetime benefits because he was hired before any change in the regulations.

He hopes that his council colleagues will support the pending ordinance.

?They should support this change as it will save money and it is the right thing to do,? Fulop said.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy said he supports the idea of requiring employees to have 10 years of service with the City included with their 25 years of overall public service to qualify for lifetime health benefits. However, he does not believe in the 25 years of service only with the city as it ?might preclude the city? from hiring employees from other municipalities with expertise for various positions.

Taking a different tack

While looking forward to new legislation, Fulop is not completely confident that it will be received warmly by the council.

Fulop said at the last council meeting, his amendment resolution was pulled because there was disagreement by some council members who were concerned that it will impact on retirees and employees close to retirement.

He also said he has not gotten a lot of cooperation from the city when he asked for information on how many retirees have already benefited from ?tacking? while doing his research on the subject.

?This is what I have learned, as of July 1, there are 1,985 retirees [receiving benefits]. As far as which of them actually worked for JC for 25 years, the city is having a hard time tracking it for me which is even more disturbing,? Fulop said. ?At an initial glance it is easy to find quite a few that have received this whether it be fire police transfers or overall employee transfers.?

Fulop continued, ?This is benefits for these people for their lives and their families, and it is costly for years and years.?

If there is an upside to Fulop?s pursuit, it?s that he has gotten support of at least one city employee

Chuck Carol, head of Local 246 of the Municipal Employees Union, which represents over 640 full-time administrative employees, and a 33-year city employee. Carol said he believes the ?tacking? policy should be stopped.

?It is patently unfair to people like myself and others,? Carol said. ?Why should we pay Mr. Kelly?s pension after he has been here for only a few years??

Posted on: 2010/10/24 8:11
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