Elected officials to get city insurance

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The City of Niles will now offer health insurance to its part-time employees and elected officials after the city council voted 7-1 to approve the measure at Monday’s regular meeting.

City Administrator Ric Huff said it would take more than a year to see exactly how much the move would cost the city, adding that an insurance consultant estimated it would result in increase of 5 percent in total health care expense.

“Because there’s no historical data for this group of people, it’s kind of a guess,” Huff said.

Council member Scott Clark said he brought this issue to the attention of Huff and the mayor after learning he could no longer keep his insurance.

“Some of us had our insurance cancelled because of the ‘unaffordable’ care act and you cannot get on the United States government’s website,” he said. “I have no other place to get health insurance. I have looked at this as a stopgap measure to try and get health insurance for my wife and I. And I figured there might be others in the same predicament as I am.”

Council member Daniel VandenHeede provided the only dissenting vote, saying he didn’t see the point in offering health insurance considering anyone can get insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

“This is going to do nothing but drive up the cost for all city employees or come out of the city budget — one way or another… it doesn’t seem fiscally prudent,” he said.

Mayor Mike McCauslin said the issue would be reviewed on an annual basis.

“If it got the point where the cost was too much for the city, we could certainly get out of it,” he said.

The plan for elected officials and part-time employees will be different than the one offered to full-time employees. Those wanting to take advantage of the insurance need to pay the full COBRA rate.

Also Monday:

• Niles-Buchanan YMCA CEO Mark Weber thanked the city for allowing the YMCA to conduct its annual Thanksgiving Run. Weber said 2,310 people from 24 different states registered for the run.

• The council heard a citizen complaint that his brush had not been collected by the city’s street department in a timely manner. Joe Ray, director of public works, said crews have been working six days a week, 10 hours a day to pick up the leaves, which take priority over brush. Once the leaves are picked up, he said the city intends to pick up the brush, weather permitting.

• The council approved five-year airport ground leases with Roger Dash of Buchanan and Dan and Gayle Carson of Buchanan.