By John L. Ross/Staff Writer
London City employees should expect a 10 percent increase in their health insurance premiums.
That decision was made during Monday’s regular meeting of the London City Council.
According to Mayor Troy Rudder, five options were before the Council for health care coverage for 2013.
“(The fifth option) came in last week,” he said. The current plan is with Bluegrass Family Health.
Rudder explained that the current $500 deductible, under this plan, would increase to $1,500. ‘It’s still fairly low,” he said.
He also said that emergency room visits would require a $100 co-pay, as well as 20 percent of the total bill. “It encourages people not to use the emergency room for doctor visits,” Rudder said. “If they were admitted (into the hospital from the emergency room) then the 20 percent goes away.”
As far as pharmaceutical usage, Rudder said employees were “doing a tremendous job” keeping costs low.
Prescriptions are priced based on a tier scale, according to Rudder. Tier I medicines require a 10 percent co-pay, Tier II is 30 percent, and Tier III is 60 percent.
Tier IV level medicines are only used by “two or three” employees, according to Rudder. “This costs them a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “(About) $200 per prescription.”
Changes with the new plan include a 5 percent increase for pharmaceutical co-pays. Rudder said “if it’s 30 percent, it will be 35 percent (and if) it’s 60 percent, it will go to 65 percent.”
“It’s a flat 10 percent increase,” Rudder said. “We could probably live with a 10 percent increase.”
But, he said “we’ll have to work on (some) things this year.”
The increase, he said, was inevitable. “This is nobody’s fault,” he said. “It’s nothing more than bad luck.
Last year, Council Member Nancy Vaughn said there was an 8 percent increase implemented. Council Member Dan Phelps questioned justifying the increase, but Vaughn said “it’s the emergency room.”
Rudder said they receive a list of the top 35 claims and what and who they were spent on. “We had a couple of situations that shot medical costs up, but (I) wouldn’t take that away for nothing,” he said.
There was discussion on helping reduce the insurance rates through preventative care, and council members agreed the smoking cessation and the drug-free workplace helped in that endeavor.
Phelps also wanted to advocate a wellness program. First Baptist, according to Rudder, had offered reduced rates for city employees interested in physical fitness, but only one employee had signed up so the program was abandoned.
“We (need to get) the employees on a health kick,” Rudder said. “We need to get them to quit using tobacco, to eat right and to exercise.”
Council Member Sharon Benge motioned to approve the new health care plan, and it was seconded by Vaughn. Council members were unanimous in their decision. While the plan did change, the provider remains Bluegrass Family Health.
In other business:
— An independent audit by Christian Sturgeon & Associates, PSC of the city’s finances was accepted by Council members Monday.
Rudder explained there were two main problems with accounting procedures with the city. The first problem, according to the report, concerned internal control. “The City’s limited internal resources prevent the preparation of financial statements and related note disclosures in accordance” with accepted accounting principles,” the audit report states.
“The federal government recommends we hire two to three different CPAs (certified public accountants) in the office to present our own financial report,” Rudder said, explaining that currently the same company that does the audit does the financial reporting for the city. “It is not cost effective,” Rudder said.
The second problem concerned segregation of duties. “There is not appropriate segregation of duties in the areas of accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash receipts and disbursements or general ledger accounting.
“Those…charged with maintaining the general and subsidiary ledgers also have the duties to approve and record credit adjustments, prepare bank reconciliations, perform billing, as well as collect payments and sign checks without mitigating controls in place,” the audit states.
According to the report, it makes it easier to misappropriate funds, whether intentional or not.
All in all, according to Rudder, it was a good audit. Weaver motioned to accept the report, and it was seconded by Phelps. Council members were unanimous in their decision.
— A first reading of a new policy and procedures plan for city personnel was approved after some discussion Monday.
Council members are voting on policy and procedures, a code of ethics, and a pay and classification plan. All current plans, if these are approved, will then be repealed.
Once these become official, they are immediately in effect.
Benge reiterated a concern addressed at previous council meetings. “When they (a new employee) is there for a year, (then they can) take off 36 days with the new policy,” she said. “That is excessive to me.
“My concern is that a small business can’t compete with government in hiring employees,” she said.
Rudder explained the policy had not been reviewed since 1993, and “a professional looked at it this time.”
Phelps motioned to accept the first reading, and it was seconded by Council Member Jason Handy. Council members were unanimous in this decision.
— Bids for a side sonar detector for the Laurel County Emergency Services will soon be advertised. During Monday’s meeting of the London City Council, council members discussed a $37,000 Homeland Security grant received for this equipment.
According to the website http://gralston1.home.mindspring.com/Sidescan.html, the latest technology for side scan sonar systems includes the use of medical ultrasound technology to increase resolution of drowning victims.
The side scan sonar system’s transducer is housed in a towing vessel, which is towed through the water a few feet above the bottom. The reflected acoustic returns are processed into an image similar to an aerial photograph, which is viewed real-time on a computer monitor in the towing vessel. Typically, the side scan sonar searches a swath 60 to 160 feet wide at about 2 miles per hour, although other ranges can be used depending upon the size of the object being sought.
Location information from a differentially corrected global positioning system (DGPS) is used to guide the towing vessel along predetermined search lines as well as to identify the location of any point on the side scan image. The stored GPS location information allows the searchers to return to any point in the image for further investigation or recovery.
“This aids (rescue personnel) in finding (drowning victims) at the lake,” Rudder said. “And (the family) can bring the (victim) home.”
Rudder said bidders will have 14 days to put in paperwork to vie for the monies. Necessary specifications will be made prior to actual bidding, but no county funds will be needed for this purchase.
— Two properties owned by the city were discussed during Monday’s meeting. The Sweeney house is slated for demolition. The Azbill house was a little harder for council members to decide, as the home, according to Vaughn, is still in good shape. She said an attempt was made to give the home to Habitat For Humanity, but moving it was too big a task. Demolition was discussed, but Rudder said he’d received two or three calls about the home.
Vaughn motioned to call for bids to move the home off London city property, saying “Someone may need it (the house).” Her motion was seconded by Council Member Judd Weaver. Council members were unanimous in their decision.
— Jim Robinette was reappointed to the London-Corbin Airport Board. Rudder said this would be Robinette’s second term with the Board. Handy motioned to approve, with a second from Benge. The Council was unanimous in its decision.
— Phelps was appointed to the London Utility Commission. Rudder said Phelps’ interest in the position partly stems from Phelps’ father once held a seat on that board. He also said that a member of Council must be appointed, per the governing rules. Handy motioned for the appointment, with a second from Weaver. The Council was unanimous in its decision.
— Shannon Smith, representing the Walk for Autism slated for April 20, 2013, was on the agenda to speak to Council members, but was not present at the meeting. That portion of Monday’s meeting was cancelled.
— A discussion of vacant property, including instituting proceedings of eminent domain, was tabled during Monday’s meeting. Building Inspector Doug Gilbert was unable to attend as he was with family becoming a grandfather of triplet girls.
— At the end of Monday’s meeting, Weaver brought up an interest in reviewing the entertainment section of the city alcohol ordinance. Weaver, a restaurant owner, said he is interested in allowing performers to play acoustic music at his business.
“(The current policy) is way outdated,” he said.
“The only thing I’m interested in is the music,” he continued. “It is a good thing, a positive thing. I’m not talking about having a heavy metal band playing to midnight.”
Council members agreed to review the policy and come to the January meeting to discuss ideas and possible changes. No vote was required for this decision.
The only absent council member was Bobby Joe Parman.