C-R forgives $21,000 in insurance mistake

By Jim Poole

Twenty Cobleskill-Rich-mondville retirees are getting a break on money they owe the school district for health insurance.
The school board last week voted to forgive approximately $21,000 the 20 support staff retirees underpaid on insurance premiums.
The underpayment stems from the lawsuits brought by retired teachers, administrators and support staff. They sued the district after C-R sought to have retirees pay more for their health insurance.
The court ruled in the retirees' favor, but the settlement revealed that 20 members of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Educational Support Personnel Association had not been paying enough.
Superintendent Lynn Macan outlined the issue to board members last Monday and suggested that payments back to the district could be stretched over months so that they weren't burdensome.
But board members Russ Smith and Steve Philbrick said the district should not ask for the money back.
"We should forgive it," Mr. Smith said.
"It's a terrible position to be in," Mr. Philbrick added. "We should take the hit as a show of good faith."
He was referring to the contentious issue of health insurance payments and the lawsuits.
Several board members noted that the CRESPA retirees receive the smallest pensions, so the payback would be difficult for them.
Agreeing that the district was in a tough spot, board President Bruce Tryon called the situation "a mistake, an error, and embarrassing."
Mr. Tryon later said board members tussled with the issue because it looks as though money will be very tight in the 2014-15 budget, and even $21,000 would help.
But most eventually agreed forgiving the money was the right thing to do, Mr. Tryon said.
Only board Vice President Jeff Foote objected. He pointed out that if a bank erred in a customer's favor, it would want its money back.
Mr. Foote voted against the motion to forgive the money. Mr. Tryon, Mr. Philbrick, Mr. Smith and fellow board members Dan Schulte, Melissa Bartlett and Mary Black voted in favor.

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