City approves new health insurance policy

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Cassville City Council approved a health insurance benefits policy with Connell Insurance, Inc., at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 6.

According to Noelle Harmon, deputy city clerk, the new health insurance policy will save the city around $28,000 over the next year. Previously, the city participated in the MOPEG consortium, which indicated that insurance premiums would increase 5 percent this year.

Although the city will see a large cost savings under the new policy, some staff members will see their insurance costs rise under the new agreement. The city pays 100 percent of employee insurance, but does not contribute to dependent coverage.

"Under the MOPEG policy, staff members who elected to receive the employee-child policy were required to pay $15 out-of-pocket per month," said Harmon. "Staff members who have employee-spouse coverage will see a $50 per month decrease in premiums, but the employee-child premiums will increase $40 per month.

"We are asking you to subsidize the policies for those staff members so that category does not go up," said Harmon. "We are only asking you to subsidize that one category."

Alderman Terry Heinz indicated that he did not feel comfortable subsidizing a select group of employees.

"The problem is that we would be setting a precedence," said Heinz. "I don't think the city should use tax payers' money to pay for staff members' children's insurance, especially with the current situation with the water and sewer."

Alderman Darrell Ledenham made a motion to approve the subsidy.

"I am making a motion just so we can see how this plays out," said Ledenham.

The motion died with a lack of a second.

The aldermen also heard that the city cannot use a sales tax pay for water and sewer operations or improvements. According to Darelyn Cooper, city finance officer and clerk, Cassville has utilized all of the sales tax that the state allows for water and sewer costs.

Eugene Dilbeck, city administrator, said that he plans to present the council with a water and sewer rate increase plan later this month. After the aldermen review the plan, they will be asked to set a date for a public hearing. Dilbeck said he hopes to see the council adjust the rates by early November.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Heard that repairs are being completed on the Greenway Trail, a wellhouse renovation is nearly complete and the Cassville Aquatic Center has been weatherized for the winter.

* Received an update on tower maintenance work.

* Heard that the public works department repaired a water main break in the Wildwood subdivision.

* Received an update on the city's website development project, which is progressing slowly due to the time it takes to gather content for the site.

* Heard that the city will be working with the Downtown Cassville Partnership and other local service organizations on a project during the coming weeks.

* Received an update on police department activities, including code enforcement, training and patrols at the Cassville High School football games.

* Heard that Casey's has submitted payment for its building and sign permits.

* Received an update on outstanding court fines. Four payment plans have been established, which will allow the city to collect $1,900.

* Heard that a new retail business that will offer 15 to 30 jobs will be coming to Cassville in the future. An announcement regarding the business will be made on or before Monday, Sept. 26.

* Received an update on the airport improvement project, which includes plans to seal the runway.

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