Woonsocket retirees being asked to accept concessions

Feb 25, 2013

Municipal retirees in Woonsocket are being asked Monday to accept pension and healthcare concessions as part of a five-year plan to improve the city's finances.

City Council President John Ward, a member of a state budget commission, says a freeze in 3 percent annual cost of living adjustments in Woonsocket's local pension plan is part of the proposal.

He says members of the police union will also be asked to accept shifting members over age 65 into Medicare; some other retirees who are under 65 or not Medicare-eligible would be moved to healthcare coverage identical to that for active employees, which has higher deductibles and 20 percent premiums.

Ward says the healthcare changes would save $5 million, and the COLA freeze would save enough to fit Woonsocket's annual pension contribution into a five-year plan for balancing the budget

“The goal here is to use the Central Falls experience as the worst-case scenario and the Providence experience as a good example of what can happen when you work together to solve a problem.”

Ward says roughly 200 attendees were expected for the 3 pm meeting at Woonsocket High School, out of some 700 invitees.  He says if the concessions are rejected, a receiver would take over the city's finances and that a bankruptcy filing would be possible.