By Jim Young
The Crossville City Council has approved changed in city employee’s health, dental and disability insurance, but voted last week not to make proposed life insurance coverage reductions.
One of the biggest employment expenses besides salaries faced by any employer is health insurance and benefits provided. The cost of health insurance has typically increased almost every year.
The city looked at numerous health insurance options over the last several weeks and, had it kept the same benefits as last year, the cost of coverage would have risen by 15 percent. The plan recommended to the council would increase costs to the city by 6 percent and the only changes in benefits to the employees is to increase the deductible per person by $500 from $2,000 to $2,500 and increase the individual out of pocket from expense from $2,500 to $3,000. A family’s maximum out of pocket would be $10,000 total.
The city pays 100 percent of the employee’s insurance fee while splitting the cost of the increase for employees who opt for family or spouse/children coverage. The recommended changes to a larger deductible would save the city $4,000 a month, or $48,000 per year. If the insurance deductible does not change, the amount of the cost increase is not currently figured into the city’s budget for the 2012-’13 year.
Councilman Boyd Wyatt said he would like to make no changes in the coverage for the employees. “I would not vote to take away a lot benefits away from city employees,” explained Boyd Wyatt.
Councilman George Marlow expressed his concern about reducing the life insurance amount, especially for city policemen and fireman who put their life on the line as part of their job. Currently, the city pays for life insurance for employees that covers twice the annual salary of the employee. The change proposed would have reduced the amount to $25,000 for each employee and would save the city $23,500 annually. Marlow requested the life insurance change be voted on separately.
The council narrowly approved the proposed and recommended changes to the health insurance keeping the cost within the city’s proposed budget. The motion was approved with Councilmen Earl Dean, Danny Wyatt and Mayor J. H. Graham voting in favor and councilmen George Marlow and Boyd Wyatt opposed.
After a motion to change the life insurance to $25,000 as recommended died for lack of a second, Boyd Wyatt moved that the life insurance not be changed leaving the coverage at twice the annual salary for employees and at $50,000 each for elected officials. The motion passed unanimously.
The council approved the recommended change to Delta Dental insurance at a savings of $12,000 a year for the next two years. The motion also passed unanimously.
Another proposed change would abolish city paid disability insurance for employees. According to city manager Bruce Wyatt, the city paid out premiums of $280,000 for disability insurance over the last 4 years and employee claims have only totaled $16,342.
Manager Bruce Wyatt pointed out that employees receive 13 days a year of sick leave as well as 15.6 days of vacation.
This proposed disability insurance change was also unanimously approved by the council. Employees still have the option of purchasing disability insurance on their own if they choose.
Mackenzie Kilgore a fifth grader from Martin Elementary School was recognized at the meeting as the student of the month for the character trait of responsibility. Mackenzie’s teachers described her as “industrious and going above and beyond what is expected, prompted by her self motivation.”