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Hancock City council plans to make changes to health insurance benefit for employees

Like nearly every other employer in the nation, the City of Hancock is struggling with the decision on how much of the health insurance costs should be covered as a benefit. For years the city of Hancock has paid the full premium for employees and family coverage. However, the increasing cost for this coverage is causing the city council members to rethink the benefit.

The city council members discussed a change to the employee benefit package at their July meeting. The focus of the change, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, will be how much of the employee health insurance premium is paid by the city. After checking into other companies and getting different quotes, it was decided to stay with the current carrier. The city is seeing a significant increase in the premium.

City Councilman Brett Nelson explained that with the city paying the total premium, it is also not equal for all employees due to age, health and family size. Therefore he suggested putting a cap on how much the city will pay per person and family. He felt that a limit of $750 per person and $1,500 per family per month would be a fair cap for all. This would mean that the employees will be responsible for paying the insurance premium above this amount.

The council members agreed that this was something that should have been done awhile ago and it is time to put this policy into place. Since this will ultimately result in a decrease in pay for the employees, it was decided to not start the cap process until Jan. 1 in order to give the employees time to make needed adjustments.

Other business

• Several building permits were discussed and approved. These were for John VerSteeg, Roger Duncan, Sonia Kannegiesser, Mike Evink and Dennis Dodds. The Duncan variances was approved after no neighboring property owners protested.

• The council members continue to discuss putting an ordinance into effect for golf carts being driven on city streets. The main concern is for juvenile drivers. This will be researched further for the August meeting.

• The council members discussed charging a fee for commercial buildings that sit empty for extended periods. The hope would be to encourage the owners to either rent, sell or demolish the buildings. Action was tabled.

• The council members thanked the county for the use of their lift truck to put up and take down July 4 flags and banners. There was no charge for this because it is a safety issue.

• Ryan Mogard reported to the city council that all has been going good with the water plant and wastewater system. He has been doing the testing and monitoring of these while Public Works Director Vern Christie is recovering from surgery. He has gone to backwashing twice a week at the water plant to help with the iron levels. This seems to be working and he would recommend continuing to do this.

• An agreement was approved with TLC for the boarding of animals picked up in the city limits without tags. The fee to the owners will be $30 with $15 going to the city. After five days at TLC, the animals will be transferred to the humane society.

• City Clerk Andrea Swenson thanked the council members for their support while getting ready for the Fourth of July celebration. She presented one quote for scanning in old city records. This bid was for $5,500. She said she will be trying to get some other quotes before presenting this for council approval.