Marion council hears of insurance savings

The Marion City Council learned at its Feb. 6 meeting that insurance rates for city employees in 2012 will decrease by 32 percent, which equates to saving about $47,200.

?We spent $147,519.55 with Blue Cross and Blue Shield (of Kansas) in 2011,? said Doug Kjellin, city administrator, adding that the cost in 2012 will at about $100,000.

Tim Oglesby, representing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, said a number of factors came together to produce the decrease.

?I had the unique privilege to witness the perfect storm for the city of Marion,? he said.

Oglesby said insurance rates go in patterns and trends.

?The pool you are in is small employers of 50 and down, and that pool is doing very well,? he said. In addition, claims were few and pool demographics improved.

Oglesby called the situation an anomaly, and counseled the council not to adjust the budget radically.

?The pool could have some usage in subsequent years,? he said, ?so there are a number of things I would be concerned about.?

Oglesby said it was still good to celebrate the savings.

?The benefits are exactly the same as last year, and every once in awhile it?s nice to deliver this kind of news,? he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the contract Oglesby presented, and to continue paying 25 percent for additional family members on a city employee?s policy.

Kjellin told the council he budgeted a 10 percent increase for insurance premiums and will continue to use that number in 2013.

Public hearing on jail

Chad Gormley of the city?s planning and zoning commission said the group had a public hearing for a conditional-use permit for the new county jail.

?The planning and zoning commission did approve the conditional-use permit,? he said, ?and now it is for your approval as well.?

The council voted unanimously to approve the commission?s recommendation.

International building code

The council learned about a provision in the international building code that requires a permit board of appeals.

Kjellin recommended appointing the board of zoning appeals as the governing body.

?We already have a board of zoning appeals that deals with similar issues, and would like to have existing members of BZA be appointed to this permit board of appeals,? he said.

The members are Margo Yates, Darvin Markley, Leland Heidebrecht, Ralph Kreutziger and Gary Lewis.

Markley, BZA chair, said he would like the duties explained to the board.

?I think it would be a good idea,? said Councilor Steve Smith. ?They may not be willing to participate.?

Other business

In other business, the council:

— discussed the permit fee schedule. Kjellin said the current fee of $16 is ?ridiculous? and untenable. Smith said the fee probably needs to be raised, but he would like to see what other communities Marion?s size normally charge. The issue will be brought back in the near future.

— approved a short-term lease on the spec building in the industrial park at 30 cents a square foot for about 340 square feet, but not to exceed 500 square feet.

— asked for clarification on the new bucket truck that could be purchased using budgeted funds. Kjellin said he would like to ?get serious? about purchasing the truck in April or May.

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