City rate on health insurance increases
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jul 01, 2014 | 614 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Cleveland City Council received an update on its employee health care plan before approving an 11 percent increase in premiums, during a voting session Monday.

Andy Figlestahler, account manager with Ed Jacobs & Associates, said the total cost to provide BlueCross BlueShield health insurance coverage for city employees and Cleveland Utilities was about $5 million.

Originally, the rate was going to increase by 18-19 percent.

“That’s a pretty significant increase when you are paying $5 to $6 million,” Figlestahler said. “I was able to get them down to 11 or 10 [percent] through our relations with them.”

Figlestahler said based on how much the city and Cleveland Utilities have used the insurance, this was a favorable rate.

Not all of the increase will be going to the insurance company.

“Of that 10-11 percent, 4 percent is going to the federal government for ACA [Affordable Care Act] taxes,” Figlestahler said.

He said a number of fees have been implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The vision insurance for the employees has changed. However, assistant city manager Melinda Carroll said it covers the same aspects of care as before.

At-Large Councilman George Poe Jr. asked what the costs would be if the city switched to a self-funded plan of coverage.

Figlestahler said switching from the current fully insured plan was not a good idea because of the risk involved and the city’s loss ratios.

Figlestahler said some of the fees have to be paid no matter the style of insurance.

Changes to how emergency services are delivered to city residents were also considered.

Poe asked that the city consider what it would cost to have its own emergency dispatch.

The city is currently in a contract with Bradley County 911 to dispatch police and fire. The center also dispatches for Bradley County.

Janice Casteel, city manager, said the city would have to give six months notice if it wanted to end the contract. She said she is meeting with the Municipality Technical Assistance Service.

Poe said if the city chooses to go on its own, then it may be able to create revenue by contracting to cover after-hours calls for Cleveland Utilities. The utility has the service though an out-of-state company.

Also during the meeting, city resident James Wise addressed the Council about flooding issues on Meadow Brook Drive and Blue Springs Road.

According to development and engineering director Jonathan Jobe, the property is on the city/county line.

“My backyard is a river,” Wise said. “It’s ruining everything in that neighborhood.”

A ditch meant to control the flow of water is seeing erosion. Public Works director Tommy Myers said the 12-inch pipe in the ditch cannot handle the amount of water directed toward it during heavy rains.

Wise said stormwater from three subdivisions comes to the ditch on his property. He said one culvert is in the city and one is in the county.

“We need help down there,” Wise said.

He said the water comes from county subdivisions, but his property is in the city.

“We either need to open the ditch up all the way or enlarge the pipe,” Myers said.

Wise said he was not in favor of having an open ditch because “that’s what we had before, and it washed my yard away.”

To fix the issue, Wise said a pipe would have to go from the “first house in the subdivision all the way to the railroad.”

District 1 Councilman Charlie McKenzie said this issue had been discussed at the County Commission meeting and Commissioner Jeff Yarber requested that someone from the city come to a Commission meeting to discuss the issue.

McKenzie asked Myers to go, and At-Large Councilman Richard Banks said representatives from the city and county need to go to the property and develop a solution.

The Council also approved updating the building and energy code requirements, final passage of an “annexation and zoning of about 90 acres located on Holloway Road,” final approval of LED sign regulations, final approval for the stormwater fee and an appointment to the vacant property board.