NY city council delays restoration of full health benefits for retired FFs

Council members have cited financial concerns as a reason for delays

By FireRescue1 Staff

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A N.Y. city council has delayed the restoration of full health benefits for retired firefighters, citing concerns over the $1.5 million cost of restoration.

White Plains firefighters say they were promised in the 1970s that they would not have to pay premiums on their medical insurance after retirement, but about 100 retired firefighters are currently paying 15% of their premium as the council considers proposed legislation, according to The Journal News.

“When we signed onto the job, to be a firefighter, we gave the city a blank check good for 20 or 30 years for everything we could give, plus our lives,” said retired Firefighter John Marconi. “And we were given a promise during that time that our health benefits would be in place after we retired.”

A 2010 budget deficit that would have raised taxes by 17% led the council to rescind the offer of full benefits for firefighters. Full benefits were restored for active firefighters in 2015.

A special meeting was held last Monday to discuss the legislation proposed by council member Milagros Lecuona to restore retired firefighters’ benefits as well. She said the 2010 decision was made “under the wrong information” and urged the council to accept the proposal.

Some council members, including Mayor Tom Roach, questioned whether the full benefits proposal would set a financially perilous precedent to offer similar proposals to other city workers, such as sanitation workers and employees at the Department of Public Works.

Former Deputy Fire Chief Ed Lobermann, 85, who had previously met with and presented to council members on the benefits issue, attended the special meeting with other retired firefighters and his daughter, Janet Beechert. Beechert said the comparison to other city workers was “insulting.”

Loberman expressed disappointment that a decision on the issue continues to be delayed.

“To penalize us because we don’t have something to give back to the city, while the active men do,” Loberman said. “We lost five firefighters in the line of duty during my career. I think that’s enough to give back.”

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