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Town reaping savings on insurance

The insurance figures are in for the Town of Orchard Park for 2007-08, and the town figures to save money again.

Orchard Park's Insurance Committee presented its finding to the Town Board on Wednesday night. While the board still has some decisions to make that will affect the final price, the town is likely to pay roughly the same as it did for the current year -- somewhere around $370,000 -- with increased coverage.

The town's insurance coverage wouldn't usually warrant much attention, but last year Orchard Park's insurance advisory committee was dissolved. Former members of the group -- who had been receiving commissions on the town's insurance for decades -- were forced to pay back a total of $60,000.
According to the report issued Wednesday night, the town's insurance costs dropped from $498,480 in 2005-06 to $369,070 for the current year as the town took bids and changed companies.
The town also received a $40,000 refund from the 2005-06 total after it discovered it was still paying insurance costs for a water system it had turned over to Erie County.

The issue is still a touchy one. Supporters of the old insurance advisory committee, which was the majority on the Town Board, noted that the 2005-06 insurer -- the Hartford -- had submitted a bid for the current year's insurance that was close to the new insurer, Selective.
Ray Stromecki, one of the members of the old advisory committee, is also the broker for Selective.

"I would say it's lower by $11,000 because of the stock market," Stromecki said.

Stromecki said the stock market affects what money is available for insurance and brings down prices.

Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy, who pushed the insurance changes last year, said the new totals validated those stands.

"Everyone says, 'Wait till next year. Selective is going to come back and really sock it to you,' " Travers Murphy said. "Well, Selective has come back, and if we take all the suggestions from Mr. Stromecki, we're going to save another $20,000."

Stromecki and Selective have had all of the town's buildings reappraised, and the overall value has been raised millions of dollars. Stromecki said the values reflect their true replacement cost.

"The Jolls House went from $454,000 to $667,000," said Stromecki, "because of the historical value. It's very expensive to replace historical buildings, as we found out with the renovations."

Other sites with major increases include the Municipal Center, the Senior Center, library, highway garages and composting center.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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