Surprise and relief: several Kalamazoo County commissioners expressed those feelings Tuesday night after the commission unanimously approved changes to the county’s retiree benefit system.
The plan – a compromise worked out over several weeks of intense discussions – is meant to close a projected $63 million funding gap in the county’s eventual medical liability.
Among other things, it requires non-union retirees eligible for medical coverage to pay 18 percent of their premium costs starting next year. That goes up to 20 percent in 2016. Retirees whose income amounts to 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level do not have to pay a premium.
Officials would like to increase union retirees’ premium contributions as well, but County Administrator Peter Battani says some contracts may be difficult to alter. He says the commission plans to sift through years of bargaining agreements to see where they can negotiate.