NYC fiscal monitor raises health cost concern

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A member of the board that has monitored New York City finances since the 1970s fiscal crisis said Tuesday he remains worried about the costs of retiree health care -- projected to be $92 billion and growing.

Speaking for himself and two other private-sector members of the New York State Financial Control Board, Lawrence E. Golub said the unfunded liability for the costs is growing by $5 billion a year and urged a long-term solution.

"The city may be unable to afford the retiree health benefits that current contracts provide for," he said in prepared remarks. Concerns about the cost of retiree health care have been voiced by fiscal watchdogs for years and through past administrations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was beginning to tackle the health cost problem "for the first time in recent memory" by increasing reserves and working with municipal unions to reduce them for current workers and retirees.

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Golub and members of the board -- which includes the governor, mayor and city and state comptrollers -- praised the mayor for the $75 billion budget reached with the City Council for the fiscal year that began July 1 and settling expired labor contracts.

De Blasio said he expects to settle more labor contracts in coming months and identify savings in city spending, including at the Department of Education. An example includes examining contracts with outside consultants from the Bloomberg administration.

"I have some real differences from the previous administration, and there were some cost ramifications to some of their policy choices that we will look at very differently," he said, declining to elaborate.

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