Board of Aldermen approve increased spending for health insurance

By Dennis Minich

The Harrisonville Board of Aldermen voted last week to pay an additional 12 percent of the health insurance costs for city employees to help mitigate a major rate increase which was announced by the city’s provider, Midwest Public Risk, last month. The increase will cost the city about $50,000 which is being paid from money which had been allocated for an airport manager, a position which is not being filled.

The board made the decision during a work session prior to the May 20 meeting, then make the decision official by a 7-0 vote during the regular meeting. Alderman Brad Bockelman was absent.

During discussion on the issue, several aldermen expressed an interest in paying a higher percentage of the premiums. Prior to the increase, the city was spending about $83,500 per month on employee health insurance. The employees themselves pay another $22,420. Had the city not stepped up its contribution, some employees could have seen their share climb as much as $300 per month.

Both Aldermen David Dickerson and Marcia Milner said they had hoped to pay about 20 percent of the increase, but understood the city only has the $50,000 to work with.

When the decision was made during the work session, another decision was also made. The city will not be contributing to OATS transportation in the near future. OATS, which provides bus services for senior and others, cut Harrisonville from five days a week to three days earlier this year.

There had been talk the company was going to cut service to Harrisonville entirely on July 1 unless some financial assistance was offered. City Administrator Happy Welch said that rumor was not true.

The final bit of business in the work session was a proposal by Mayor Judy Bowman to allow aldermen to participate in meetings via the Internet if they are unable to attend.

“Its my thinking if we can do it why not do it? Missouri statute allows for video conferencing and several cities do it,” she said.

Bowman added staff has worked with the wireless connection and it is sufficient to provide streaming service into the chamber room. The board agreed to have acting city attorney Steve Mauer draft the ordinance allowing for the change.

During the meeting, the board voted to allow Police Chief John Hofer to solicit bids for new lockers in the police department’s locker room. The board had budgeted for shower facilities, but the bids came in nearly double the budgeted amount.

Hofer said the lockers could be constructed for about the cost that had been budgeted and the showers could be considered in the future.

The board also approved a $24,200 expenditure for sidewalk work in front of the community center. A bid had recently been approved a bid for other work in the area, but the cost was less than budgeted so enough was left to do the remaining sidewalk work.

The board also approved spending $58,555 for a new pickup truck for the street department and $12,000 for a new salt spreader.

In other business, the board approved a permit for the Library Truck Night on June 10 and the Life Issues Walk Aug. 30.

The board approved the appointment of Chuck Jones to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the appointments of John Foster and Bryan Wooten and the reappointments of Jeff Cryderman and Mike Cox to the Board of Building and Engineering Appeals.

The board was also informed by Welch that Junk in the Trunk would like to expand into the city parking lot at Pearl and Lexington streets. He said the first event of the year filled all of the spaces on three sides of the square.