Headlines Cont. – 3/31/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 31, 2006


City insurance decision hinges on dependent coverage cost
By Jason C. Mattox

City leaders moved one step closer to selecting health benefits for employees in the coming year after more than three hours meeting with two insurance representatives- selling the same plan from the same company.

Representatives from Clark Insurance appeared before the board first presenting them with a plan from Humana identical to the city’s existing policy from Aetna.

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Once the city heard the presentation from Humana representative George Urban, board members and city employees seemed to have the same question – what could be done to lower the cost of family coverage.

"After talking to several of the city employees, it seems like they would not mind a higher deductible if they can get their monthly cost down from where it is," Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said the number he has consistently heard from employees is between $250-$300 monthly.

"The best insurance in the world isn’t any good if your people can’t afford it," he said.

Urban agreed to bring the city back a dual option on insurance within the week. The first option will be the plan that mirrors the existing plan and the second option will have a higher deductible.

With that presentation concluded, discussion of Humana continued, this time from the city’s present insurance carrier Whitten Insurance.

Alan Tanguay, who has brokered insurance for the city since 1999, was met with similar concerns about family coverage.

"We want to do whatever we can to get the family coverage where our people can afford it," Dugger said. "We have some people that just can’t afford the $550 per month that the low-deductible plan would cost."

Tanguay said when he first started working with the city, they had no interest in family coverage.

"The out of pocket then was around the $350 range, and we didn’t have anyone interested in it," he said.

"That’s because it was too high then and it’s still too high now," Autrey said.

The board asked Whitten’s representatives to prepare them a dual option plan like the one being prepared by Clark Insurance.

No decision was made. Insurance will be discussed again at a future meeting. The city must select a carrier before May 1.

Homestead exemption sign-up deadline today
By Billy Davis

Friday is the deadline for homeowners to sign up for 2006 homestead exemption, the Panola County tax assessor’s office announced this week.

The homestead exemption is a property tax break and is for full-time Panola County residents only.

Most homeowners who signed up for homestead in the past do not need to sign up again. However, they should re-sign for 2006 if they encountered these changes in 2005:

You or you spouse turned 65 or older
You or your spouse became disabled
You built a new home, bought a different home or bought a mobile home (located on your own land)
Bought or sold land that possibly may be added or deducted from homestead
Your were married or divorced in 2005 or either spouse is deceased.

To sign up, visit the tax assessor’s office at the county courthouse in Sardis or Batesville.

For more information call the Batesville office at (662) 563-6270 or the Sardis office at (662) 487-2092.

Plans changed for BHS reunion
Planners for the Batesville High School class reunion have changed the date of the event to Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12.

A bass tournament scheduled at Sardis Lake had filled all available motel rooms for the weekend on which the reunion had originally been scheduled, spokesman Wilma Hentz said.

Anyone who attended Batesville High School is encouraged to attend the reunion. Batesville High School graduated its last class in 1963 when consolidation changed it to South Panola High School. For more information contact Hentz at 563-3733, Doyle Collier at 563-3911, Billy Smith at 563-2359 or Arthur V. Broome at 563-7788.

"Please help us get this information out to anyone you know that attended this school," Hentz said. "Come have fun and see people you haven’t seen in years."



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