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City employees get 'cafeteria' of insurance

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Mayor Philip Craighead presents the Legends of Lebanon Award to Custom Packaging at Tuesday night's Lebanon City Council meeting for being "a good commercial citizen of the city." Operating in Lebanon for 47 years, since 1968, Custom Packaging has 120 emp

The Lebanon City Council has chosen which insurance policies to offer as the city goes to a "cafeteria" approach to providing health insurance to its employees.

Now city employees must make their own choices about which of the three plans on the "menu" they want to enroll in.

They were scheduled to start learning about the new insurance plans in briefings on Thursday morning, although those meetings may have been delayed by this week's "oh no, not another winter storm."

The briefings were scheduled on the heels of back-to-back council sessions held to pass the changes Tuesday night, in regular session, and Wednesday morning, in special session.

The adoption of the three plans was the culmination of weeks of work by the administration of Mayor Philip Craighead and the city council, who faced a deadline of offering the new insurance plans before the enrollment period closes for employees at the end of this month.

Worked out in work sessions
The three selections from Blue Cross Blue Shield were hammered out in work sessions during February and presented to the council by Human Resources Director Sylvia Reichle and Finance Commissioner Robert Springer. The council voted unanimously at both the regular meeting on Tuesday and the special-called meeting on Wednesday to approve the choice of plans to be offered to employees.

The three plans include one which is essentially the same as the existing coverage, but will cost $20 more per month due to increased premiums from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The second choice would offer similar coverage at the current cost to the employee, but would not include services provided at TriStar Summit, since that provider doesn't accept the plan.

The third choice would offer the employee a higher deductible, a health savings plan which the city would contribute to, and would have no required employee payment.

On Tuesday, all councilors were present except Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath, and on Wednesday morning Ward 1 Councilor Lanny Jewell was absent in addition to Warmath.

Split vote on SUV purchases
On the eve of more winter weather, three separate ordinances to approve the purchase of SUVs for departments in the city were also passed, and provided the only split vote at Tuesday night's meeting.

The first ordinance, approved unanimously, authorized the purchase of one 2015 Chevrolet Equinox from Wilson County Chevrolet for the Water Department at the state contract price of $24,842.15.

The second ordinance authorized buying two 2015 Chevrolet Equinoxes from Wilson County Chevrolet, also at the state contract price - one for the mayor's office and one for Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines - with Councilor Jewell voting no.

The third ordinance, which was a last-minute "drop-in" addition to the agenda, was approved unanimously for a used vehicle for the Lebanon Fire Department using the remaining funds from the sale of a fire truck in the fiscal year 2013-14.

Overtime for clearing streets
The council also unanimously approved a line-item transfer requested by Baines to cover employee overtime worked during recent weather emergencies.

Line-item transfers were also approved to cover the costs of training Lebanon Gas Department employees how to maintain natural gas vehicles and to pay for the repair of station generators for the fire department at the request of Fire Chief Chris Dowell.

In addition, the council agreed to reclassify an open position for a payroll assistant to a payroll specialist, with the salary increased to reflect added duties and responsibilities, at Reichle's request.

All of the items were approved on first reading at the regular meeting on Tuesday and on second reading at the called meeting on Wednesday.

Writer Connie Esh can be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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