Health insurance rates to go up for city employees

Friday, November 26, 2004

Manila Mayor Clifford Veach informed city council members that he received notice that the city's health insurance premiums will go up the first of the year.

Veach said because of claims over the last six months the premiums will increase $75.50 per person per month. The rates will go from $260 a month to $335.50 a month.

"We will have 43 people on insurance at the first of the year, and the increase will cost the city an additional $40,000 a year. That is quite a blow," Veach said. "I thought we had reached the peak of this thing, then they come up with this. I called as soon as I got the increase information.

"We paid $79,377 in premiums from May to October and we had $141,600.61 in claims for that period.

"It (insurance) has always been a factor, now it is a major factor," Veach said.

Veach distributed the information and suggestions to city council members.

"Let's take a month and look at it," Veach said.

Council members present included Dwight Booth, Tony Hawkins, Larry "Whiz" Davis, and Linda Donovan.

Mayor Veach reviewed the budget to date.

"We are a little over 83 percent through the year and we do have two or three trouble spots," Veach said. "The police department, sewer department and sanitation departments are over budget. The water is over but so is the income. We will review it more extensively at the December meeting."

Veach also presented the council with a proposed 2005 budget. He said it was close to last year with a few changes. The budget has to be approved by Feb. 1.

"One thing I've done is take the tax money and put it in separate accounts. Two years ago I thought it would be easier to have it as a line item and save work. Now I think it will be better to keep it separate," Veach said. "That way everyone will know where the tax money is.

Chief of Police Jackie Hill gave an update on property cleanup. Hill told the council that several property owners who had been notified are in the process of cleaning up property.

Mayor Veach told Hill and the council that they may want to take action on houses that need condemning.

"Something needs to be done with homes that have been burned out and vacant for years," Veach said.

Hill said he would look into it.

"I think a good job has been done on property clean up this year and I expect an even better job next year," Veach said. "I believe Manila is generally cleaner than I've seen it before and I am proud of Chief Hill and the council. You council members should be proud of yourselves. You are the guys that initiated it (the clean-up)."

Councilman Hawkins said he wanted to compliment Hill for doing a good job.

Mayor Veach updated the council on the airport work saying work on the runway extension should start the middle of next month.

"Whiz (Councilman Davis) and I met with representatives from McClellon Engineers of Little Rock," Veach said. "They are handling the Master Plan for the Manila Airport for an out-of-state company. We were informed that it would take about a year to finalize the master plan."

Veach explained that the master plan is all part of the airport grant process.

Veach informed the council that the water improvement project should start in two weeks. The tank's inside walls will be treated and the outside will be painted.

"They are responsible for getting a temporary water storage tank while they are working," Veach said. "Henry (Henry Ford, water superintendent) will be working with them. I'd like to see it done in this calendar year if it is possible."

Veach told the council members that he had talked to all employees about the proposed retirement plan and all were in favor of it. The representative that had spoken to the council about setting up the retirement program through CitiStreet is off work after surgery. Veach said he was sure that as soon as she was back at work, she will be in Manila for group talks and meet with employees one on one.

In other business:

*Mayor Veach said the gas collection had been moved to Northeast Arkansas Linen (across the street from city hall). The electricity collection has not been finalized yet.

"I expect it to be complete in the near future," Veach said. "I haven't heard any major complaints on the move. The two part-time workers are nearly through with training. They will be ready to fill in on busy days or sick days."

*The council also approved the millage resolution to keep the millage at 4.0 as before. Of the 4.0 mills 3.6 goes for maintenance and operations and .4 to the firefighters' pension.

*Councilman Donovan said she had talked to Henry Ford and the city crew will be putting up the Christmas lights. She also said that the Manila Business Women will take care of providing refreshments for the Christmas Parade.

Veach expressed his appreciation to the Business Women. He said that Tony Bunch is in charge of the Christmas Parade.

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