City Administrator Howard Partington summarized weeks of effort and hours of discussion in a single statement Monday night when the Great Bend City Council was discussing what to do about city employee health insurance.
“I can tell you, this has not been an easy process.”
Partington, along with Human Resources Director Terry Hoff, told the council that they have worked on information from different health insurance providers and they were performing under the gun, because the council had to determine what to do by Dec. 31, which is when the city’s current agreement with Blue Cross has to be renewed, or some other choice made.
After considerable discussion Monday night, including the suggestion that there should be at least one more special meeting planned before the end of the year, it was decided that the city will stick with its current system for this year, but that it will also seek a professional consultant who can study the various options and report to the council.
That recommendation came from the city staff members who have been caught in the middle on this issue.
Councilwoman Allene Owen summarized the dilemma that faced the council when she observed they are tasked with finding what is best for the city employees, but also what is the best deal for the city taxpayers who will foot the bill.
Councilman Mitch Haney urged that city can’t “just keep accepting fee increases” in the health insurance.
Councilman Bill Berryman observed the entire process should have begun earlier in the year so the council wasn’t up against the deadline at the point of trying to make a decision.
Councilman Dana Dawson moved that the city remain with its current product and that the information be gathered earlier in the year so it can be acted on and that the professional consultant be engaged to evaluate all offers.
That was approved with council members Haney and Dale Westhoff opposed.
Council members Dawson, Owen, Berryman, Joel Jackson and Ken Roberts voted in favor. Councilman Randy Myers was not present.