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Stamford Board Gets Lowdown on Retiree Rates

STAMFORD, Conn. – After about a month-and-a-half of waiting, the Board of Finance finally got to ask Director of Human Resources Emmett Hibson Jr. about the increase in health insurance premiums for retired city employees on Thursday night.

At the mayor’s request, Hibson did not attend a Sept. 1 meeting held by the finance board’s Legal Affairs and Personnel Committee. Although Mayor Michael Pavia sent a letter to the board, committee members waited for Hibson about 45 minutes, a letter written on behalf of the board said.

After 10 years of a flat premium rate for retired employees, the city increased the rates as compliant with its contracts. The 700 retirees were paying about a third of the rate they will see starting Nov. 1, Hibson said. The increase won’t be retroactive.

Board members asked what the city could do to get back lost money — which was estimated at about $4 million by Hibson. “Would you do it if it was your money?” Kathleen Murphy asked, invoking the perspective of the taxpayers.

Getting money back would bring up several issues, including former Human Resource Director Fred Manfredonia's recommendation to retirees to not join Medicare and a court could find the retirees not responsible, Hibson said. Also, many former employees may not be able to afford their premiums.

“It is a hardship, some won’t be able to afford it,” Hibson said.

The board decided to ask Hibson to come back to discuss the issue further at the Legal Affairs and Personnel Committee meeting. Hibson said a seminar will be held Oct. 18 for those with questions about the rate increase.

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