Westchester County employees have no reason to complain about the high cost of their health insurance–$7,992 for individuals and approximately $22,000 for families, because they pay nothing for it–unless they are property taxpayers.

County Executive Robert Astorino, a Republican elected in upset victory in November, has proposed requiring 400 nonunion employees to contribute 15 percent toward health costs, saving $1.2 million a year, which would make a small dent in the county’s $60 million budget gap (here).

Democrats, who control the county Legislature, first advanced a more modest proposal that would have excluded nonunion employees working for the district attorney, county clerk, Board of Elections, judiciary and the Legislature itself. (Health benefits for union employees must be negotiated through the collective bargaining process.)

In the face of criticism, the county legislators tabled their proposal and are studying alternatives, such as different health plans, pretax savings accounts, contribution tiers and incentives for employees to opt out of employer insurance plans, the Journal News reports. A spokesman for the county executive called the current costs unsustainable (here).

“It’s not that complicated,” [he] said. “Taxpayers are now paying 100 percent of health-care costs for employees. We think it’s fair that employees share part of that cost.” Westchester is one of four counties statewide that requires no contribution; the others are others Nassau, Suffolk and Wyoming counties.

Thirty-five counties require at least a 15 percent contribution, with others mandating 20 percent, 30 percent and even 50 percent, according to the New York State Association of Counties.

In addition, New York City employees do not contribute toward health benefits.

Westchester County’s health benefits cost $148.8 million this year, up from $66.9 million in 2000, according to the Journal News.

At a legislative hearing, an insurance professional said most employees of mid-size companies pay between 25 to 50 percent of their health-care plans (here).

It’s not uncommon,” said Chris Yandow of Pelham-based Eifert French and Ketchum insurance and risk management. “Virtually all of our groups have contributed to the cost of a health insurance plan. … I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent having some sort of contribution, but most do. “Business owners are struggling with ‘How do we maintain a good benefit level without bankrupting the company,'” he said.

As reported here Friday, White Plains, the county seat, decided to impose a 15 percent contribution, but only on nonunion employees hired after April 1. The city is facing a possible 23.5 percent tax increase.

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

You may also like

Sales Tax Receipts Surge Statewide, Filling Local Government Coffers

Local governments across every region of the state raked in robust sales tax collections during the three months that ended on June 30th Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. Read More

Tax hike and huge spending increase seem likely in next NY budget

New York state today began its 2022 fiscal year without an adopted budget—which, in itself, is not a big deal. The state government can continue to pay bills and employee salaries next week if either final appropriations Read More

DiNapoli Predicts $3.8B More in State Tax Receipts

New York State's tax receipts in the current fiscal year will exceed Governor Cuomo's latest projections by $3.8 billion—still down from last year, but a big improvement over the governor's worst-case scenario—according to updated estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office. Read More

With Hopes Dashed for “Blue Wave” Bailout, Cuomo Needs to Deal With Budget Shortfall

With the national election results still unclear, Governor Cuomo can no longer put off tough decisions on how to balance New York's pandemic-ravaged state budget. Read More

For State Lawmakers, Secrecy May Pay

New York state legislators may get a raise on January 1, 2021—but the people who elect them may not get to find out before voting ends next week. Read More

In Pandemic Recovery, New York’s Tax Base Is More Fragile Than Ever

New York's exceptionally wealthy state tax base is also exceptionally fragile, due to its heavy dependence on the highly volatile (and portable) investment-driven incomes of Wall Street workers and fund managers. Read More

Not a Moment Too Soon, Bill de Blasio Is Setting a Good Fiscal Example

After months of flailing, floundering and stalling on desperately needed cuts to New York City's pandemic-ravaged budget, Mayor de Blasio just made a smart and appropriate move to save money—in the process defying one of New York's most powerful government employee unions. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!