Changing health plans saves city $98K a year

Staff writer

In a topic that has spanned Hillsboro City Council meetings for nearly two months, council approved a new plan for city employees.

The new plan, from Blue Cross Blue Shield, will cost $19,340 a month for its 26 employees. The previous plan, from Midwest Public Risk, cost $25,096 but was set to increase to $27,505 if the city renewed the plan. The switch to Blue Cross Blue Shield will save the city $97,980 a year.

However, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan increases the deductible from $750 to $1,400.

To combat the rising deductible cost, Paine proposed taking some of the money saved and supplementing a flex account with $500 per employee to use on health expenses not covered by the plan.

“The flex account bothers me because of the backlash when the money is gone and we can’t offer the $500 anymore,” mayor Delores Dalke said. “If we’re going to do something like this, we need to make sure people know it’s a one year only thing.”

Council member Bob Watson proposed creating a matching plan where the city matches contributions of the employees into the flex account up to a certain amount.

Watson made a motion to supplement the accounts $25 a month or $300 a year, but received no second. After moving to the next agenda item, council member Byron McCarty brought the motion back up for consideration but it failed after a 2-2 vote with council members Marlene Fast and Shelby Dirks voting against.

“We’ve always listened to Delores in the past so why not listen to her tonight,” Fast said, explaining her reason for voting against the motion.

Dalke voted against in a tiebreaker, saying if she would be for the idea if the council increased the number matched to $500.

“I think if we’re going to do this we need to make it in the amount that is the difference between the old deductable and the new one, or else there’s no sense doing this,” she said.

No further action was taken but a special meeting was proposed to discuss the issue further.

Parking on lawns

An ordinance was passed banning residents from parking motor vehicles, except those in use for business, on lawns.

“Heading to work this morning I saw one lawn with five cars parked on it,” Dalke said. “It was ridiculous.”

First offenses will be ticketed $25 and asked to remove their vehicles. After each offense the penalty climbs $25, to $100 after more than three offenses during a six month period.

“On deals where there are multiple cars I can see this being an issue,” Watson said, “but where there is one car parked beside another in the driveway I think this could be extreme.”

An exemption from the ordinance can be obtained from the city administrator.

In other business:

  • Watson was appointed president of the council.
  • McCarty was appointed president of the Public Building Commission.
  • The mayor re-appointed Josh Boehme as city attorney, Brad Jantz as judge, and Paine as treasurer.
  • An ordinance was approved to remove the restrictions for one year against spray planes and planes under 12,500 lbs. at the airport. The city will work up a set of guidelines to prevent spray companies for damaging airport property at a later date.
  • The council approved an ordinance setting rural electric rates to fix a typo found in the previous ordinance that set rural electric rates at 1.1 cents when it was suppose to be 11 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • A lease agreement between the city and Salem Homes was approved. Salem will pay $6,200 per month and after two years will pay $6,510 for a total of $72,000 a year.

 

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