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Hoisington Council tells Mitchell to quit state coverage
Contracting with counseling firm to negotiate benefit plan
Hoisington city building at night.jpg

 HOISINGTON — Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Board President Scott Fleming thanked the city for its assistance in making the recent Labor Day Weekend Celebration a success. 

“Without the city employees and city council support, I don’t think it could be done.,” he said. 

 Picking up from the Aug. 20 meeting, the council discussed and approved moving forward with a contract for consultation services with Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. to assist with finding a better and less expensive option for health insurance for city employees. That’s good, because they also gave Mitchell the okay to inform the state that it will no longer participate in the state’s benefits program next year. 

Currently, city employees are covered under the same plan as state employees, but the multi-year contract period is ending Dec. 31, and if no notice is given by Oct. 1, the city would be locked into another three-year contract period. 

Ever since he was informed premiums would be increasing, as well as the maximum out of pocket contribution, Mitchell has been looking into options to cut costs while maintaining coverage as closely as possible for employees, and he told the council that he believes there are some viable options. 

“We thought it was a Cadillac plan when we went onto it, but now it’s just a really old Cadillac, and Cadillacs are expensive to fix,” he said, paraphrasing a city employee. 

Utilizing consulting services from Gallagher could help the city to realize the best possible transition.  

The contract with Gallagher will be for a period of one year, allows either party to provide a 30-day notice to terminate the agreement. 

The company is the fourth largest public benefit consultant in the world, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said. They are a preferred provider for most insurers in the state, he added. The scope of services they propose will include providing analysis and financial reports, conducting client-directed marketing and negotiations, and supporting corporate and legislative compliance support.  

They will also actively support the city in employee educational efforts, drafting communications to city employees, assist in benefit administration, assist with surveys and design of the city’s benefit plan. There are also staff attorney’s that can help with COBRA issues. 

The city will pay 4 percent of premiums to Gallagher, payable on a monthly basis. Mitchell said based on the current benefits premiums, that amounts to about $20,000 a year. The price is favorable to similar companies, he said, with some charging similar sized cities around $30,000 a year. 

“If the product they bring us is lousy, we can give them 30 days notice,” Mitchell said.

Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night:

• Discussed of the annual League Conference and voting delegates. All four seats will be taken by elected officials this year: Dalton Popp, mayor and council person Richard Rubio will be voting delegates. Council persons Jim Morris and Becky Steinert will be alternate delegates. 

• Considered a proposal from Sawvel and Associates to revise the City’s financial forecast for the Electric Utility Fund, which was last updated by Sawvel in 2014. The proposed cost for the forecast is $10,900, not including any meetings the council may wish representatives to attend. 

• Approved a benefit consultation contract with Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. The cost of services will be 4 percent of monthly medical premiums, and will be paid on a monthly basis for the contract period of one year starting Oct. 1.  

• Approved notification to the State of their intention not to renew participation in the State plan. 

• Considered of quotes for the curb and gutter extension in McKenna Meadows. Three bids were received from: Evan Merlau, Ray Christians and Scott Christians. Scott Christians Construction qualifies for our local vendor preference policy of 10 percent. Evean Merlau was ultimately awarded the bid, which was $6,678.  

• Heard the city manager’s update, which included information about last weekend’s Pooch Plunge which raised funds for a proposed city dog park, recent repairs to the high-density lime water softening system, progress on the pole art installation along Main Street, expected bids for the pool bath house improvements, as well as expected bids on the upcoming council room renovation project at the Hoisington Municipal Complex. 

• Mitchell also informed the council about a significant grant from FEMA for a little over $100,000 recently awarded the city's fire department for 17 breathing aparatus.