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* This article first appeared in The Times Herald-Record on April 4, 2000. Used by permission.



Retirement plan for county workers stays with Hartford

GOSHEN: After a dust-up, Orange County has decided to stick with its current retirement investment firm.

By Christopher Mele
The Times Herald-Record

After workers protested a planned switch, Orange County has agreed to stay with its current retirement savings plan manager.

Officials said they met twice with officers of Hartford Life Insurance Company and won assurances for service improvements.

The county was prepared to bolt Hartford and switch its $20 million retirement savings plan to Aetna Inc.

That sparked complaints from current and retired workers enrolled in the plan.

They said they were not informed of the switch and objected to Aetna because of press accounts that it was on shaky ground.

Hartford manages the county's 1,000-member deferred compensation plan worth about $20 million. Paycheck deductions are invested, with returns accumulating for retirement.

County officials had expressed dissatisfaction with Hartford's accessibility, but the company has pledged to hold office hours for new employees and current enrollees, said Legislator A. Alan Seidman, personnel committee chairman.

"They knew what our unhappiness was and immediately took action on it,'' said Seidman, R-Cornwall.

In the aftermath of complaints that workers had felt left out, Legislator Jeffrey Berkman, D-Middletown, attempted to change the makeup of the committee that selects the retirement manager.

A resolution he introduced added the Legislature's minority and majority leaders to the committee, as well as representatives of the three county unions.

The committee includes the county executive, finance and personnel commissioners and members of the finance and personnel committees.

Legislators last week approved the addition of the unions, but rejected including the majority and minority leaders, saying it would politicize the selection process.


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