BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)- Nearly 4,000 Erie County employees do not have to pay a premium for healthcare in the month of December only.

It’s something that no Erie County Executive has ever done and something that Mark Poloncarz says he didn’t plan on doing but thought it made it sense. The County Executive says that the nearly four thousand Erie County employees pay 15% of the total cost of the healthcare coverage. The rest is paid for through a Labor Management Healthcare Fund which was doing very well financially this year, and it can only be spent on healthcare for County workers.

So Poloncarz  decided to waive the healthcare premiums in the two paychecks that employees will receive in December. “I think it just made sense because we didn’t need the money to cover for the remainder of the year, so why should we take it out when people have an opportunity to hopefully spend it locally in our local economy.”

Erie County Legislature Minority Leader Joseph Lorigo thinks it would have been more appropriate to put it back into the fund for next year. “Nothing against county employees, but I think the County Executive’s gift is a little insensitive at a time when residents of Erie County are paying more than ever for their healthcare, the County Executive told 3,500 or so employees they don’t have to pay.”

County Executive Poloncarz says he opted not to wait until next year’s budget to share the money with the emoployees because the projections are so positive that he believes he will be able to lower healthcare premiums for County workers next year, even while waiving the premiums for december.

The cost of the premium waiver amounts to about $600,000 which Poloncarz says will average out to about $250 for each of the employees.