Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Rising health costs complicate Burns Harbor salary ordinance

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

An unforeseen change to the Burns Harbor Town Employee health plan’s high deductible made it harder for the Town Council to pass its 2017 salary ordinance Wednesday night.

The Council planned to give full-time employees a $750 raise next year, except the two hired in November, but that won’t be enough to compensate for the $1,000 the employees would have to pay out of pocket to meet the deductibles under the insurance plan, said President Ray Poparad.

The Town made changes about two years ago for its group plan with Anthem Insurance to save about $40,000 on annual premiums by having high deductibles and health savings account.

The plan before that included co-pays of $1 from employees. But as the Council found out Wednesday from Fire Chief Bill Arney and Street/Building clerk Lori McCormick, employees are now having to pay for prescriptions and doctor visits before reaching the deductible.

Poparad said the HSA plan the Town’s had for two years “got dropped” and the Town was “thrown” into a different plan with not enough time to research other options. He said he blames himself for not seeing this sooner.

Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan said the insurance renewal date was Dec. 1 and concurred that there was not adequate time given to seek other plan proposals. The Town is now locked into the amended plan. There are ten employees on the plan currently and 13 will be on it next year with two new employees and another who wishes to join the plan, Jordan said.

Council member Marcus Rogala asked if it was possible to switch to a different plan in the mid-year. That could be problematic, Poparad said, as there is plan through the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns but some communities on it have reported difficulties.

Poparad said he knows this will “get daggers thrown at him” but one other option would be that the Council give employees a lump sum to buy their own insurance on the open market. Towns do have that option as Town Attorney Clay Patton attested, but there are other options too.

Council members Eric Hull said there are advantages to being on a group plan over being on a separate individual plan. Council member Toni Biancardi suggested her colleagues look at the plan in place now and review it to see if changes are needed.

The Council ended up voting 4-1 on the ordinance, keeping the originally suggested amounts for raises.

Voting no on the ordinance was Council member Andy Bozak who after the meeting said he disagreed with the way the building commissioner would be paid.

The ordinance states that the building commissioner -- Randall Lopez who was appointed in November -- would be compensated at $20 per hour plus $35 for each inspection.

Bozak said he doesn’t believe Lopez should be paid twice for doing the same work and there followed a longer discussion by the Council on what would be fair compensation if Lopez could be paid another way. Lopez will be considered part-time working up to 30 hours per week.

Also for next year, Jordan will receive a raise of $1,000 and the Council agreed to equalize pay for department heads -- Town Marshal Mike Heckman, Street Superintendent Pat Melton and Arney who works as the Sanitation Superintendent -- at $27.90 per hour.

Contracts

In planning for next year, the Council renewed contracts and service agreements.

The fire service contract was renewed at $54,650 for 2017.

The Town will retain Osan & Patton, LLP as its attorney for next year. It’s legal services contract will be the same as 2016. The firm will be paid $18,000 plus $1,500 monthly to advise the Town Council and boards at their meetings.

Patton will be paid $200 per hour for additional services and $160 per hour for an associate attorney.

The financial advisor will again be H. J. Umbaugh and Associates. Partners and principals’ standard hourly rates are up to $450 per hour, managers at up to $325 hourly, consultants at up to $250 hourly, municipal bond disclosure specialists are up to $180 hourly and support personnel are up to $135 per hour.

The engineering contract with Global Engineering increased slightly for the first time since 2010. The compensation scale ranges from $30 per hour for clerical work to $185 per hour for survey crews. Principals are paid $165 per hour. Architect and engineering rates are $145 per hour.

Board appointments

Also for 2017, the Council kept its appointments on Town boards.

Gordon McCormick will continue to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals and Plan Commission. Amanda Sucku will be reappointed to the Park Board.

Jordan said both McCormick and Sucku were the only applicants for their seats.

Poparad made his presidential appointments to the Redevelopment Commission with Bozak, Biancardi and Council member Marcus Rogala as his picks. The Council choices for their RDC representatives will be Hull and current member Nick Loving.

The Council voted unanimously to recommend reappointing Lisa Wodrich to the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission. Wodrich, who was the only applicant, was the Duneland tri-town appointment last year to serve out the remaining term of the late Judy Chaplin.

The nomination must also be ratified by the Chesterton and Porter Town Councils.

Poparad to lead Council in 2017

On a motion by Rogala, the Council agreed unanimously to make Poparad its president for 2017 and Hull its vice-president.

Street Dept. vehicle

In other new business, the Council approved a bid from Bosak Chevrolet of $60,620 for a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 3500. The vehicle will be for the Street Department and includes a dump, spreader and plow. It will be paid for out of the Maintenance Department’s budget.

 

Posted 12/15/2016

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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