Local taxpayers to save millions with pension reform

ALBANY - Local taxpayers in Warren, Hamilton and Essex counties will save many millions of dollars in the coming years after pending pension reforms take effect, according to figures state officials provided this week.

Future personnel costs of local municipalities and school districts will be substantially reduced due to pension reform Gov. David Paterson signed into law Thursday, according to calculations by state officials.

For Warren County government, taxpayers will save an estimated $26.4 million over the next 30 years, due to the reform. For small school districts in Warren County, savings are in the $5 to $9 million range.

For Warrensburg Central School District, this pension reform savings over the next 30 years is estimated to be $8.9 million, and for the town of Chester, the savings is projected at $3.4 million. For the town of Warrensburg, taxpayers are expected to save $715,000. Similar savings are expected over that time period for other area school districts and municipalities. Savings to Lake George School District is expected to be $8.7 million over the three coming decades, according to the state Office of the Budget.

"In order to get our fiscal house in order, Albany must make fundamental reforms to the way it spends money," Paterson said in announcing the reform measures. "This is the first substantive pension reform in a quarter century, and it is another critical step toward making our government more accountable to taxpayers."

Under the new Tier V Reform plan, which was passed last week as part of the state Deficit Reduction Plan, newly hired public employees will be subject to a significantly less generous pension package and be required to chip in more toward their retirement. Yet-to-be-hired employees will be required to work longer before accessing their benefits and the minimum age of retirement will be raised from 55 to 62.

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