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NCCC TRIMS BENEFITS OF 21 OFFICIALS

The Niagara County Community College board of trustees has taken steps to cut expenses by reducing the fringe benefits of the school's 21 administrators, especially in the areas of health insurance and paid days off.

On the recommendation of college President James Klyczek, the board eliminated the traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield health coverage in favor of three health maintainence organization plans -- Community Blue, Independent Health or Univera.

Klyczek said this should save about $160,000 a year, starting in about three years. Savings won't be seen immediately, he said, because the college is offering administrators a onetime only buyout of $8,000 for giving up the Blue Cross Blue Shield option.

Klyczek said trustees worked out an identical agreement last summer with the Educational Support Personnel Association, a union representing about 95 clerical employees who voluntarily went along with the proposal.

"We got the administrators together, explained the situation and what we were trying to do. We didn't want to ask other employees like the clerical workers to do something we wouldn't do ourselves. I believe the vast majority agreed."

Klyczek also said the board cut back on paid vacation and paid personal leave days for administrators by an average of 20 percent.

Personnel Director Lou Paonessa, just hired this year as an administrator, said, "Our personal days have been eliminated. I would have gotten three, but now they're all gone. Before I had 22 days of paid vacation. Now I get 21."

Paonessa also said paid bereavement days have been reduced from five to three days each year.

Retirement medical coverage also has been changed. Paonessa said new administrators must work at the college for 35 years to earn full medical coverage in retirement. It had been 20 years, which now will entitle an administrator to 50 percent paid medical coverage in retirement.

Paonessa said the retirement provision will not affect current employees.

"That's huge" for the future, Klyczek said. "(The new reductions) will give the college some future control of costs."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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