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County discusses changing rescuers' retirement plan

December 21, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners faced an unusual question Tuesday: Should they amend a plan that they have not yet formally adopted?

At issue is a proposed retirement program for active fire and rescue volunteers with more than 25 years experience.

Under the current plan, about 82 volunteers can start drawing benefit payments when the program begins about Jan. 1, 2007.

The Length of Service Award Program will cost a minimum of $225,000 a year, with the amount increasing by 5 percent annually.

Based on discussions over the last three years, the county government believed the annual cost was going to be split evenly between the county and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which proposed the program, Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis said.

But while the county has set aside about $250,000 to $300,000 so far, the association has not saved money for it, Davis said.

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Both county and association administrators thought the plan had previously been passed, but each had a different interpretation of how it was to be funded. The Association thought it would split the funding only for the first year, said Robert Cumberland, association administrative planner.

Association President Jay Grimes has asked the County Commissioners to amend the plan to include more detailed language about retirees with disabilities. It would provide coverage for people who incurred disabilities outside of their volunteer work.

"How can we consider an amendment to something that's never been fully adopted?" Commissioner William J. Wivell said.

"Houston, we have a problem," Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said.

The County Commissioners decided to discuss the issue further to clear up the misunderstanding at a work session in January.

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