Columbia Co. officials looking at how to afford firefighter insurance
Richard Moody is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media Columbia County is looking at a plan to transfer savings in workers’ compensation claims as a way to help local fire departments pay for insurance mandated by state law, to cover active firefighters. The law that requires fire departments to provide insurance for its volunteers goes into effect January 1. Under the legislation, firefighters with five years of interior experience must be covered for various types of cancer, including lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, cancer of the reproductive systems, or melanoma. A program created by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York in partnership with Hartford Insurance Company costs $225 a year per volunteer. Columbia County has approximately 900 to 1,000 firefighters, although not all may be eligible for the program. “We have seen savings in workers’ compensation claims the last couple of years,” Columbia County Treasurer PJ Keeler to the Board of Supervisors, August 8. Under Keeler's proposal the county would charge the towns less for workers compensation each year, but then charge for the cost of the insurance, ultimately resulting in savings for the municipalities. The plan is budget-neutral, Keeler said, and will not require an increase in taxes. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.