Meriden finance committee discusses OPEB options, gets budget update

Meriden finance committee discusses OPEB options, gets budget update


FILE PHOTO: Meriden City Manager Guy Scaife listens as resident speaks during the public comment portion of the City Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. | Richie Rathsack, Record-Journal

MERIDEN — City Manager Guy Scaife recommended to the City Council finance committee Wednesday reducing payments to the city’s Other Post Employment Benefits trust fund as a cost-saving method to lighten the burden on taxpayers on what is now expected to be at least a $194.7 million budget. Scaife initially released a near-flat $191 million spending plan, but stated early in the process that the budget was subject to change.

The city contributed $3.25 million into the OPEB trust fund in the 2015-16 fiscal year, however Scaife said “aggressively” growing that fund has come at the expense of other, more pressing operational items as the city already has a “pay-as-you-go” method for funding the benefits. Scaife proposed freezing funds to the account at $2.4 million for the current fiscal year and using the leftover $800,000 to fund capital expenditures. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, Scaife suggested dropping the payments into the trust fund to $500,000 per year.

The account currently has more than $32 million and Meriden is ahead of most other municipalities in funding the account, according to data presented by Scaife, which showed 61 percent of towns in the state do not even have a trust fund account for OPEB.

Democrat Cathy Battista questioned if reducing payments to the OPEB trust could affect the city’s double-A bond rating.

“There is no perfect answer to that question,” Scaife said. “It is a component, but it is minor compared to so many other things.” 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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