Cost-cutting gets creative in Camillus, Jordan

"Excellus had raised their rates 16 percent last year, and 22 percent this year - and there was no negotiating," Coogan said. "We save considerably with this [new] plan ... the savings were just too much to pass up."

Unlike in Jordan, the new health care plans available to Camillus employees differ significantly from their previous option.

"It was a big change," Coogan said. But the savings to the town and unions speaks for itself.

During board meeting, Coogan thanked the unions for cooperating with the town on the switch, which was made during contract negotiations, an admittedly sticky time to be changing benefits.

Coogan said one of the concerns of union workers was that the town would continue to change their health care providers whenever possible to save money, which she didn't completely rule out.

"That was a concern. For this year and next year they know they're locked into this plan," Coogan said. She likened the process to buying a car - the board is always looking for a better deal, but if the current costs are acceptable, there's no reason to change.

"Some years the cost is OK, but this year they wouldn't move," she added.

Coogan also said the town found savings in worker's compensation and liability coverage.

Plan B

Platten said because the village was able to save with health care, they didn't have to find those savings in other areas when preparing the 2009-10 budget.

"I don't know what we would have done for a plan B," Platten said.

Coogan was certain cuts would have been made elsewhere if the health care hadn't been slashed.

"There would have been other cuts, absolutely there would have been other cuts. We were right up against the wall," Coogan said.

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