BPU Board Not In Agreement With Workers Comp Formula

Not all members of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities agree with the change in how it pays for workers’ compensation insurance.

Last month, the BPU board voted 6-3 on a resolution dealing with the change City Council made in how much the BPU pays toward the insurance. The city and the BPU obtain workers’ compensation insurance through the county’s self-insurance plan. The city doesn’t procure its own plan, but has been a part of the countywide plan since the 1950s, said Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi.

Teresi said the change City Council made was to be in-line with how the county expects members of the insurance consortium to pay. The new allocation formula will have the BPU pay 60 percent based upon claims experienced for the last five years in proportion to the total claims experienced for all city entities. Then the other 40 percent would be based upon the assessed value of real property used for BPU purposes in proportion to the assessed value of all real property owned by the city. This is the same way the county assesses members of its insurance plan.

“Basically the resolution at the Board of Public Utilities was a housekeeping matter. It was back in November of 2012 City Council passed the resolution to change how internally we proportionate the workers’ compensation bill we receive from the county each year,” Teresi said. “Prior to the change, the city had split it out by head count.”

Gregory Rabb, Jamestown City Council president and At-Large member, said all council members who voted agreed with the change in 2012.

“City Council unanimously decided the way to proportion the bill was the way to go,” he said. “I don’t see it as a change, but as a correction.”

With the new formula the amount the BPU pays toward workers’ compensation insurance was increased. The BPU had already paid $312,569 to the city in 2013, but will be charged an additional $130,660 for a total of $443,229. For 2014, the BPU will now pay $528,518 for the insurance.

The three members of the BPU board who voted against the change included Carl Pillittieri, Wayne Rishell and John Zabrodsky, all citizen members of the board. Zabrodsky, who also is the board chairman, said he didn’t agree with the methodology behind the change. Pillittieri also didn’t like the change in the formula.

“Justification was lacking,” Pillittieri said. “I was not comfortable with the calculation.”

Rishell said his no vote had little to do with the new formula, but the lack of discussion before voting on the resolution.

“My decision was based on there needs to be more collaboration and more dialogue with City Council,” he said.

In 2012, the BPU paid $261,682 toward the workers’ compensation plan. In 2014, it will pay $528,518, which is a 102 percent increase.

“There is quite a bit of additional money flowing to government’s general fund,” Zabrodsky said. “I don’t mind if there is a long-term plan, but that is a dramatic increase in a short time.”