Schenectady County

CSEA head, Glenville supervisor spar over insurance concessions

The president of the town’s CSEA chapter accused town Supervisor Chris Koetzle Wednesday of trying t

The president of the town’s CSEA chapter accused town Supervisor Chris Koetzle Wednesday of trying to publicly bully the union into giving concessions on health care to balance the 2011 budget.

Koetzle last week said that he needed concessions from the town’s three major unions to pay for raises when new agreements are signed. Health insurance costs are going up 15 percent next year.

The town had a 30-day deadline to make the health care changes or it would have to wait until the open enrollment period next year.

Roger Harrison, the town’s water plant operator, said the union met with town negotiators six months ago to talk about health insurance. However, there was no follow-up conversation until Town Attorney Michael Cuevas faxed a letter regarding the issue this week.

“We will not be bullied,” Harrison said. “An agreement can only be reached by face-to-face negotiations. The town now wants a flurry of negotiations to meet the heath insurance clock,” he said.

Koetzle said he did not want to engage in a back and forth discussion over who said what during the last nine months but answered Harrison’s remarks.

“To say the comments made tonight were disingenuous is an understatement,” he said. “If anybody has picked up a newspaper in the last six months, they can see what’s going on in our region.”

Koetzle proceeded to list recent budget cutbacks announced in Schenectady, Saratoga and Rotterdam. He said he thinks Glenville’s situation is less severe by comparison, with a few cuts he does not think would have a big impact on services.

The board adopted the first of those cuts with the elimination effective Friday of a full-time information processing specialist in the highway department and a part-time clerk in the assessor’s office.

With revenues coming in less than expected for 2010, Koetzle said the board needed to act.

“I fully understand that this is a tragedy to the people it affects. I think it was necessary to move forward. It is part of a larger plan, which we began in January, to restructure services, the way we do business at Town Hall.”

Koetzle’s tentative $11.7 million budget for the three main funds of general, highway and town outside the village would result in a tax rate increase of 3.8 percent. The special district funds, like fire and sewer, account for the rest of the $18.1 million total spending plan.

Koetzle’s proposed budget would also change from full time to part time a dog control officer and payroll clerk.

The board will hold a work session on the budget next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The preliminary budget must be adopted by Oct. 20. A public hearing would be set for Nov. 3 with adoption of the budget on Nov. 17.

In other business, the board approved a water and sewer line extension to serve Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s planned 72-bed facility on Swaggertown Road.

About $1 million worth of water and sewer improvements are planned, according to Baptist Associate Administrator Tony Alotta. The organization is planning a spring 2011 start to construction on the $11 million project.

The board also scheduled a public hearing on Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. on its master plan for the 33-acre Andersen farm at the intersection of Swaggertown and Van Buren roads. The plan includes hiking trails, a dog park and possibly a leaf composting facility.

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