Macomb County retiree health care funded, officials say

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Macomb County has funded its retiree health care and ensured future benefits for active employees, officials announced Tuesday.

The recent development is a result of a group of Macomb County officials traveling to New York City last week to finalize pricing of a $263 million bond issue to fund the county’s unfunded retiree health care liability. The county has 4,200 active employees and retirees covered by the plan.

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel first proposed the initiative nearly a year ago, officials said. The state of Michigan gave approval last month.

The county will issue 20-year bonds with an average 3.88 percent interest rate instead of an initially planned 25-year bond with an average 4.3 percent interest rate. The move, officials say, will save the county nearly $47 million in interest over the life of the bonds.

“This is the largest and arguably the most important financial transaction the county has ever entered into,” Hackel said in a statement Tuesday. “People will look back on this transaction with favor 20 to 30 years from now because it provides long-term financial stability for the county. It helps ensure that the county will be able to keep the promises it has made to its employees and retirees.”

Officials said they expect annual debt payments to be less than retiree health care premiums as early as 2018.

Leonard Reinowski, president of the Macomb County Retirees’ Association, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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