It is a sobering fact that the city of Revere had to pay $14.9 million this year to pay its share of the city provided health care insurance for municipal employees.
Ten years ago, the same budget item cost the city $5.6 million.
The cost for the city in the 2011 budget will be closer to $16.5 million and many of us might reasonably ask – where is that money going to come from?
It comes from the taxpayers.
The $1.5 million shortfall expected for health insurance next year will be made up by raising taxes, cutting expenses or both.
With the state already predicting that state aid to the cities and towns will be off by two to three percent in the coming fiscal year, there is the likelihood that Revere will be searching for $1.5 million just to pay the extra on the health insurance not to mention an additional two to three percent of the budget shortfall, which should add another $3 – $4 million the city has raise in order to balance the budget.
The matrix is very simple, the solutions, however, are not.
The city’s unions refuse to bargain away health care benefits.
It is the same all over the Commonwealth, where every city and town is dealing with the spiraling cost of health care premiums, which are unsustainable.
Because health insurance at the city-municipal level is guaranteed and is part of the union collective bargaining law – absolutely nothing is destined to change in the near future.
So the cost for city employee health care premiums will continue rising and property owners will be taxed additionally to support a system that is technically bankrupt.
These are desperate times for many millions of people in the private sector who must pay a larger portion of their company provided health insurance.
It is only fair and just that municipal employees be made to carry the weight of the bad economy in part and to insure their health insurance security for the future.
If they don’t begin negotiating and now, they will shortly find themselves out in the cold.
That day is arriving.
In fact, that day is almost here.