Local News

County Proposes Dropping Retiree Health Care for New Hires

Posted June 11, 2007 7:59 p.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2007 4:39 p.m. EDT

— Wake County Manager David Cooke is floating a proposal in his Fiscal 2008 budget that county employees coming onto the payroll after next Jan. 1 would not get health benefits when they retired.

It would be a major change from the current plan in which the county covers all health benefits for 20-year retirees.

"We're moving to where the future employees would not be provided with … health insurance upon retirement from the county,” Cooke said Monday.

"That's a significant change," County Commissioner Joe Bryan said.

The county's currentl liability for health-care coverage for vested employees is $100 million, and the figure is expected to increase.

Bryan sees Cooke's plan as a way to keep that number in check.

"I think we're on the leading edge of recognizing trying to balance the limited resource of the taxpayers’ monies that are entrusted to us and how to use those monies," Bryan said.

Cooke’s administration says that changing the health-care options for employees hired after Jan. 1 can save taxpayers a minimum of $13 million.

Some other managers see problems, however.

"I think it's going to hurt us really bad down the road,” Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. He predicted that the change would keep prospective employees from coming to Wake County.

"You're going to lose good employees,” Harrison said. He sympathized with the managers’ need to cut expenses, but added, “I think it's going to cut down on the quality of people that we get."

Commissioners are expect to vote on the 2008 budget at next Monday's meeting.