In a move to save more than $1.3 million, the city so far this year has thrown 98 people off its self-funded health insurance policy, and plans to remove another 77 if arbitrators allow.
Carole B. Snyder, city managing director, said the total of 175 people includes 89 dependents of current city employees, nine nonpolice retirees, and 77 police retirees and/or their spouses, all of whom the city says are not eligible for city-paid insurance.
The Fraternal Order of Police has objected, and the city has agreed to wait on the police retiree purge until an arbitration panel rules. A hearing is slated for March.
Allentown officials knew a staggering number of city firefighters would retire in 2011, it was just a matter of how many.
Fire Chief Robert Scheirer predicted months ago that some 50 firefighters would retire before the union’s contract that contained a generous pension clause was set to expire Dec. 31, echoing a similar mass exodus six years ago in the police department.
Now that the paperwork has settled, city officials say 42 firefighters left in 2011 — nearly one-third of the department usually staffed with about 140 firefighters. That’s by far the most firefighter retirees in one year, second only to the departure of 80 police officers six years ago.