Southington Town Council considers insurance contribution “holiday” to close budget gap

Southington Town Council considers insurance contribution “holiday” to close budget gap

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council considered reducing contributions to the self-insurance fund to offset state revenue cuts during its meeting Monday night.

The town pays for general government and school employees' medical claims through a self-insurance fund.

Education officials proposed a contribution "holiday" in which the district would keep what it usually pays into the self-insurance fund for a period to make up for the loss in state funding. Both town and education employees would also receive a holiday from making their contributions to the fund.

The school board won’t have to pay $755,000 toward the self-insurance fund. School officials can use $637,000 for deficit mitigation while the remainder goes back to employees.

The town’s holiday would mean it keeps $211,000 and town employees a total of $34,000.

Town Manager Mark Sciota said returning the employees’ contributions was believed to be the most equitable way to implement the holiday.

Democrat Chris Palmieri, the Town Council chairman, said claims were lower than expected recently, which allows the contribution holiday.

“It’s a very healthy account,” he said.

Tom Lombardi, a Republican councilor, said the action isn’t taking money from the fund but does divert contributions to cover other costs.

“We are not dipping into the self insurance fund,” he said. “We are just not contributing more than is required ... We’re just reallocating the money.”

The town and school board have struggled to cut costs as a result of a midyear reduction in state revenue. While the town did have some contingency funds, officials are facing a $2.1 million shortfall.

Sherri Dinello, the school finance director, suggested the contribution holiday as an alternative to layoffs or furlough days.

The council didn’t vote on the measure by press time.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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