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Adams-Cheshire Readjusts Retiree Health Insurance Splits

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — With the help of a reimbursement from Berkshire Health Group, the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District returned the retiree health insurance split to 75/25.
 
The School Committee voted last Monday to continue providing 75 percent of the premiums for non-Medex users after receiving nearly $200,000 in Berkshire Health Group Retiree Drug Subsidy Funds. The split for Medex users will go back to 67/33.
 
Last month, the committee voted to change the retiree health insurance split to 60/40 for non-Medex users and 51/49 for Medex users, by fiscal 2021, to be more in line with active employees.
 
"The committee then heard from retirees who attended the meeting and decided to phase in the Medex splits over the next three years starting with a 67/33 split in FY19," Superintendent Robert Putnam said. "They did not change the PPO and POS splits."
 
The switch had an immediate impact on the proposed $19,557,372 the fiscal 2019 budget that with the new split would increase by 1.46 percent. Without the change in the health insurance split, Business Manager Erika Snyder said the budget would see an increase of 2.46 percent. However, the district was able to use funds from excess and deficiency to offset the increase.
 
Snyder said the district was able to make last-minute budget adjustments through the reimbursement program. This is a program offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reimburse health plan sponsors for a portion of their eligible expenses for retiree prescription drug benefits. 
 
Snyder said Berkshire Health Group received a series of these reimbursements over the years that created a pool of money used to maintain rates. Because Berkshire Health Group funds are currently strong, and its board voted in February to disburse these reimbursements gathered from fiscal years 2006, 2008 and 2009 to Berkshire Health group members.
 
Out of the $1.8 million being dispersed, Adams-Cheshire will receive $200,000.
 
Snyder said this pool of money was not entirely siphoned off to offset unchanged splits and that the School committee voted to add $65,000 to E & D in order to keep the town of Cheshire's assessment under a 3 percent increase.
 
"We are headed into the second year of a healthy fund balance and the School Committee felt it was appropriate to take this opportunity to give some relief to the towns," she said. 
 
A portion of the town assessments are calculated by the state and out of the district’s control, however, the district can adjust the over minimum assessments.
 
She added the funds will also be used to extend Project Lead The Way programming to Grades 6 and 9.
 
"This is a source of income that will not be available in coming years and must be used to support only those items that wouldn’t require a year after year commitment of funds," she said.
 
"These funds will be used to offset the changes in retiree insurance as well as fund the startup costs and implementation of PLTW for Grades 6 and 9."

Tags: ACRSD_budget,   health insurance,   

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Adams Selectmen Hear From Ale House Owner

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff

Nate Girard explains his predicament to the Selectmen on Wednesday.
ADAMS, Mass. — Nate Girard and his longtime friend Erik Pizani decided to buy the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Hall in 2012. The property had a rich history in town and most people had memories of bowling, playing pitch, attending a wedding, or just sitting at an old red leather stool and enjoying a cheap beer.
 
The two partners, along with another investor, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing the structure up to code and restoring the bar and kitchen. The Adams Ale House was born. Both of them ran the restaurant, bought houses, had kids, went into real estate together, and celebrated the boom and even the bust times. 
 
Pizani eventually left the restaurant business and left Girard as the sole owner of the building. Girard decided to lease the restaurant space to focus solely on real estate and his young family. The new operators didn't last long in a tough restaurant market and went out of business in December 2018.
 
The building on East Hoosac Street has sat unused since then. Girard has it listed it on several sources and is still hopeful he can find a taker. The idle liquor license he still holds, however, has become an issue for the town.
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