NEWS HEADLINES

City to shop around for health insurance

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, August 10, 2013

{{{*}}}The Chico City Council, facing a tough budget year, wasn’t looking for a 37 percent rate increase on employee health insurance.

So they’re looking for a different insurer.

Mayor J.D. Clark said after a Tuesday council meeting that the city’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy came back with that 37 percent increase in premiums.

“That’s obviously a non-starter for us,” he said. The city’s agent, Sheril Rodgers, is doing pre-screening on city personnel so she can go to other providers with specific information and get an accurate quote.

“We hope we can find a better quote,” Clark said. “Thirty-seven percent is just ridiculous, even in a good year.”

Clark noted the county had a similar experience, went looking for new bids and was able to get a much better rate by switching providers. The council is hoping Chico can get the same result.

The policy expires with the end of the current budget year on Oct. 1.

The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2013-14 budget and tax rate at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 in the council chamber at City Hall. The public is invited.

Clark said the tax rate proposed is 48 cents, the same as last year, in spite of a 6.7 percent drop in overall property values. The proposed budget represents a 5 percent reduction from last year.

Also on the Tuesday agenda was a policy change regarding service on the city’s park board.

A bylaw that put term limits on board members was getting to be a problem, Clark said, because it’s hard to find people willing to serve in a small town. So the bylaw was changed.

“They’re still three-year terms and they have to be approved by the council, but we did away with the term limits,” he said. “We don’t see any problem with letting people continue to serve if that’s what they want to do.”

The council also approved the appointment of Brian Humphries as a volunteer firefighter. Humphries, a city employee, went through the application process within the department and was recommended for approval by the council.

He works in the street department, but will also be trained for animal control.

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