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Genesee Legislature OKs pact with firm over workers’ comp costs

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Legislature has approved a contract with a North Syracuse consulting firm to change its workers’ compensation cost allocation method to better reflect the marketplace.

“For years, the Legislature and I have been in agreement that our plan is not the fairest way to allocate costs,” said Assistant County Manager L. Matthew Landers, who oversees the plan. “We’re looking for the company, OneGroup, to assist us in this area as well as to help us institute best practices.”

Landers said that the cost to plan members – which includes all of the county’s towns, villages, school districts and fire departments except the Le Roy school district and City of Batavia – is based on a 50-50 split of taxable assessed value and the participant’s three-year average experience.

Landers added that this method is not present in the private sector because of its flaw of emphasizing a participant’s ability to pay compared with a fairer calculation of the actual risk the participant brings to the overall plan.

The Legislature authorized paying $10,600 to OneGroup to facilitate changing the allocation method to one that is based on payroll and to provide detailed reports comparing the county plan’s costs with those found in the marketplace.

“We need to know are we overcharging or undercharging in case some municipalities may want to kick the tires and check prices,” Landers said.

He said since there is no profit motive for the county, members should be paying about 20 percent less than they would pay on the open market.

Landers added that the consultant also will write a “very clear exit strategy that makes sense” should a participant wish to leave the plan. As it stands now, he said the exit strategy contains a lot of gray areas.

The Legislature also passed a resolution opposing legislation in Albany that would transfer approval rights from local industrial development agencies to the state’s Public Authority Control Board when it comes to the issuing tax-exempt private activity bonds to help businesses that are looking to invest in specific projects.

Currently, nearly $2 billion in private activity bond capacity is allocated to New York State, with a third of that reallocated to local industrial development agencies.

In other action, the Legislature:

• Committed $7,000 to support the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council for 2016, an increase of $95 from the 2015 contribution.

• Appointed Shelly Wolanske of Batavia to the Genesee County Youth Board for a three-year term and Carrie Hermann, a Department of Social Services supervisor of adult services, to the Office for the Aging Advisory Council for an open-ended term contingent upon her county service.