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Council raises cap on employee health insurance costs

The Breezy Point City Council decided 4-1 Monday night, Oct. 7, to raise the cap it had set on the cost of employee health insurance.

The council also switched the employees’ health insurance plan to one with a higher deductible and provided staff with a 2 percent cost of living pay increase.

The council set the health insurance cap years ago as the maximum it would spend on employee health insurance. The cap had been set at $420.50 for an individual and $1,050 for a family per month. The cap was raised Monday to $475 for an individual and $1,187.50 for a family.

Staff asked that the cap be raised after health insurance costs rose 22 percent for 2014.

Council member Diane Williams voted against raising the cap on health insurance costs.

“The purpose of the cap was to continue to provide good insurance, which we do, and protect citizen taxpayers,” Williams said. “I think if we had a limit we should have stuck with our limit.”

Council member Otto Schmid said that while he agreed caps were useful, he felt they had to be reviewed once in a while.

“When you take into consideration the position of the employees, what they’ve been receiving as far as salary increases, they’ve really been treading water,” Schmid said.

Williams argued that citizens are in the same predicament.

“The same thing happening in the city (to city staff) is happening to all citizens. Their wages are not going up and health insurance is going up.”

She said that citizens, though, were often biting the bullet on the cost increase. She and the rest of the council did vote in favor of switching to a different health insurance plan, which was agreed on by city staff.

The council also agreed unanimously to give staff a 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase. The police union had bargained for the increase, and the council felt non-union staff should be given an equal pay increase.

“I can’t look employees in the eye that are non-union and say, just because you’re non-union, you don’t get the same as those who are union,” council member Scott Willer said.

Public safety

Breezy Point Police Chief Kevin Merschman reported a total of 221 calls to service in September. Those included, most notably, 50 traffic stops, five traffic arrests, 13 medical, eight alarms and 93 miscellaneous calls.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Granted a pedestrian trail easement on city land to the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club (PLCC). PLCC currently has a trail near its facility off County Road 4 and would like to extend it across Thrane Drive from their location. The city decided to allow PLCC to create pedestrian trails on the land.

• Decided to sell by sealed bid a 2007 Crown Victoria former police squad. The car was replaced by an all wheel drive SUV. The council will accept or reject bids at the Dec. 2 council meeting.

• Was provided with materials regarding improvements to the Whitebirch Village and Whitebirch Seven developments. Council members expressed support for moving the project forward.

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