SHADYSIDE - Village employee insurance costs became a major concern earlier in May for Shadyside council members and Mayor Bob Newhart.
It was learned that the updated premium amount from Health Assurance was increasing more than 27 percent.
Insurance costs go up, but that was seen as an unmanageable increase by all in attendance. So the administration solicited bids from other prospective providers to determine the best rates.
Councilman Robert Bell, the head of council's finance committee, reported back on the package amounts during Wednesday's special council meeting. He noted that Health Assurance was able to reduce its increase to nearly 17 percent. During its initial proposal, the cost per year was set to increase from $125,690.88 to $160,366.56.
Bell recommended the village go with the Health Plan, a motion seconded by Councilman Tim Merryman. It was approved 5-0.
Health Assurance's deductible amount was lower than the Health Plan, but the latter's co-pay amounts were less.
Tipping the scales in the Health Plan's favor was the total yearly cost of $116,828.28. That's far less than the previous provider and is a 7.1-percent decrease on the previous year's costs.
The savings will allow the village to include an additional $1,000 per employee into the Municipal Employees' Retirement Program (MERP).
Bell envisions this is going to be a yearly issue moving forward.
"We're going to have to evaluate in this manner every year," Bell said. "Most of the providers had an increase of 16 percent or more on what we had last year.
"We would have liked to stay with Health Assurance, but it wasn't feasible. Now maybe next year, they will come back with a plan that is cheaper."
In other action, council approved the purchase of a new John Deere tractor from Kuester Implement.
Previously, Street Department Supervisor Jay Meek stressed the need to either get the village's current tractor repaired at a costly price or possibly explore purchasing a new or used tractor.
A deal was worked out where the village traded in its old tractor plus a few other pieces of equipment on the new diesel, four-wheel drive John Deere with a final cost of approximately $7,900.
Councilman Jay Morgan talked with Meek, who had a chance to test drive the tractor up at Hill View. It received glowing reviews, noting how well it cut and the added feeling of safety for the driver.
Mayor Newhart said the village has leftover FEMA money on an older fund that may be used since the equipment will be for the betterment of the village.
Merryman motioned for purchase with Morgan seconding. It also passed 5-0.
Merryman gave an update on the village's pool, noting the new paint job has been completed and the pool itself was filling up as of late Wednesday evening.
He said the pool will likely be inspected Friday.
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