County commits to retiree health insurance
Dorchester County Council committed Monday to finding money in the budget to fund health insurance for retirees until they're eligible for Medicare.
The move is expected to cost $186,103 annually.
In a series of cost-cutting moves over the last few years, the county has cut back on the benefits offered to retirees.
Faced with a $2 million annual bill to fund the insurance, council decided in 2011 that it would offer the program only to future retirees who had at least 10 years of service as of January 1, 2012.
That decision excluded 70 percent of the county's employees, Administrator Jason Ward said Monday.
At the time of the decision, staff said it would continue trying to find a way to fund retiree health insurance for current and future employees, he said.
With the help of a new actuary and better calculations, the annual required contribution decreased substantially, and the staff returned to council with a request to include the benefit in next year's budget.
Ward expressed his personal thanks to council on behalf of county employees, including himself, for committing to the benefit.
Councilman Jay Byars said the benefit is a necessary for the county to attract and retain talented younger employees.