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Council at odds over insurance
by Gary Kent
Dec 23, 2011 | 1075 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — In a 3-2 vote, City Council members voted on Dec. 13, to turn down a low bid from insurance broker Brannon Brooke for a fully-insured plan and go with a self-insured plan submitted by Roland Barrera, an agent for Entrust Insurance.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Scotten and Councilwoman Libby Spires voted against the motion made by Councilman David Carabajal and seconded by Councilman John Fulghum.

Scotten and Spires said they wanted more information on the self-funded insurance plan, so they could compare it with the Blue Cross Blue Shield quote presented by Brooke.

The city staff had recommended that the council accept the Blue Cross proposal, because it would allow the city to continue insuring its employees with the same company but at a lower cost.

Carabajal had expressed concern over the initial $1,000 per employee deductible. But Brooke offered the city an opportunity to modify the coverage slightly to bring that down to $750.

Barrera and Brooke told the council that city employees were not using their insurance coverage to the maximum. Barrera said he felt that would allow the city to save considerable money in a self-insured plan.

But Scotten and Spires continued to argue that the two plans could not be compared evenly without additional information. Spires said repeatedly that she wanted to be able to compare “apples to apples.”

“There is so much information that at this time, I’m just not ready to make a decision tonight,” Scotten told the council.

He reminded other council members that Brooke had offered to extend the current coverage with Blue Cross until a more informed decision could be made.

Scotten suggested that the council take advantage of the extension offer and make a decision in January.

“I’m just not ready to do this,” Scotten repeated.

But Carabajal went ahead and made his motion and when Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez called for a vote, he joined with Carabajal and Fulghum in voting for the self-insured plan submitted by Barrera.

Carabajal also added to his motion that the city give employees a $450 stipend to be used toward the $1,000 deductible that would be part of the Entrust plan.

The council also:

— Approved a request from Dave Moore Ford for the use of the Depot Pavilion in downtown for a “Customer Appreciation Event” on Dec. 16.

— Paid 100 percent of the cost of a short term disability insurance premium for city employees.

— Entered into an agreement between the city and Amstar for work on baseball and softball facilities at Veterans Memorial Park.

— Approved an agreement with Spa Skateparks of Austin for the design and construction of a skating facility at one of the city’s park properties.

— Extended an agreement between the city and Corpus Christi consultant John Longoria for work on the city’s parks improvement project and for assistance in obtaining grants from the Texas Water Development Board for improvements to the city’s water system.

— Set up a schedule of interviews for six candidates who will be vying for the city secretary position after the current secretary, Tomas P. Saenz, retires at the end of the year.

— Solicited bids from roofing contractors for the installation of a pitched roof to go over the municipal court building.

— Amended a city ordinance closing the 200 block of South Filmore Street to designate that the 200 block of South Fowler Street be closed.

— Paid a bill from Rock Engineering-Testing for soil work at Veterans Memorial Park.

— Declared a 1980 Ford pumper truck owned by the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department as surplus equipment, so that it can be donated to the Texas Forest Service and eventually be given to the Tilden Volunteer Fire Department.

— Scheduled a public hearing for the council’s Dec. 27 meeting to hear comments on a special use permit being requested by Elizabeth Perez for her property at 1503 N. Adams St.

Perez wants to open and operate an optical retail business at that location.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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