Baraka: Newark to start following 2011 reform mandating employee contributions

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on October 17, 2014

NEWARK — Newark mayor Ras Baraka said the city will begin following a state law passed in 2011, requiring city workers to contribute more toward their health care premiums.

"We gonna do what we supposed to do. We gonna get Newark workers into where they supposed to be over a period of time," he said in a brief interview.

"We are working with the state to make those things take place."

State officials said earlier this week the city has not followed a state law that Gov. Chris Christie signed as part of 2011 pension reforms requiring all public workers to contribute more toward their health care premiums.

But Baraka said the city is likely legally bared from retroactively collecting back fees for the healthcare premiums from employees.

"We’re not make city workers pay retroactive for something that wasn’t done years ago," he said. "I think its mean-spirited and it’s something that I’m not supporting at all."

As the Local Finance Board approved Newark's budget on Tuesday, board chair Tom Neff said most municipalities were already in their third year of collecting those payments. Neff said Newark's failure to collect the fees caused taxpayers to make up the difference.

"These funds aren't being collected like the law requires," he said. "It's not right. It's not fair."

Newark officials at the meeting said it took the city several months to update its payroll system following the passing of the law, but that they did not know why the fees weren't collected last year.

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