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— began to set aside additional money beyond the anticipated annual cost to provide a hedge against the rising premiums and claims. The city contributed about $2.4 million or more every year into that hedge, even as bud- gets fell during the recession. During a period when one-third of city workers were laid off, the OPEB payments continued. Today, the fund has about $39 million. Once the money goes into the OPEB trust fund, it cannot be used for any other pur- pose. "It's irrevocable," said the city Human Resources Director Stacie Mason. In effect, the trust fund is a locked box. However, for the coming year, to balance the overall budget, the city will intercept OPEB funds before they enter the locked box. Instead, the city will revert to a pay-as-you-go plan for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. A ONE-TIME DEAL Both Mason and the City Finance Director John Lege hope the OPEB diversion does not become regular practice. "I hope it is a one- time deal," said Lege. They both want to take a year to work with insurance experts and actuaries to come up with a better plan. "This is not sustainable," said Mason. "We want to look at this as a one-time event and then look at recommendations for other solutions." A new player on the stage is the federal Affordable Care Act, which demands every This fiscal year, the city expects to pay more than $14.6 million in healthcare claims, a big jump from the prior year. While the retiree claims (in blue) have remained fairly constant, claims by active city employees (in green) have jumped almost 60 percent. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 54

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