City of Batesville-insurance

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2012

Aldermen hear good news: health insurance cost drops

By John Howell Sr.

The City of Batesville will see a reduced premium for its portion of medical insurance premiums for employees when its new insurance year begins May 1, Clark Insurance Agency owner Brad Clark told the mayor and aldermen last week.

Clark said a five percent across-the-board premium reduction will save the city about $40,000. Clark said that the reduction comes after several “shock losses” had boosted cost of medical insurance for city employees substantially in recent years. Shock losses are so catastrophic, such as those from major illness or injury, that an insurance company experiences a significant underwriting loss.

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Clark said that participation by people insured through the city’s medical coverage in a free annual medical exam had increased from 22 percent last year to 33 percent this year. “We need to see that number up there about 60 or 70 percent if you want to start seeing the savings really down the road.”

“It’s all about getting checked out earlier so that we can stop you from having a heart attack, being diagnosed with cancer,” said Brad Camp, an insurance representative who had accompanied Clark.

The elected officials discussed offering a paid day off to allow for the free annual exams and other measures, some of which were punitive, to encourage a higher percentage of participation in the free medical checkups.

In other city business:

•   Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said that he would expedite language in an easement to allow a larger water line to be installed to the Save-A-Lot Grocery that plans to expand at its current Highway 6 and Bates Street location;

•   City Street Superintendent Teddy Austin asked for clarification on clearing limbs that overhang city streets and other rights-of-way.

“If it’s hanging out in the way of traffic then you have the right to move it back, but I don’t know if you have the right to remove the tree,” Mitchell said. “You don’t need to take them back any further than you have to; … I don’t think you can go back far enough to make it look good,” the attorney added.

•     City Code Administrator Pam Comer sought clarification on another matter: the request from a property owner for a variance that would violate a subdivision’s restrictive covenants.
The property owner plans an addition to an existing home on Dabney Street which would bring the structure within two feet, eight inches of the property line, a drawing submitted by the property owner indicated.

“It’s not the city’s job to enforce the protective covenants,” Mitchell said, referring to a similar case in another city. Enforcement of restrictive subdivision covenants are left to the property owners and are ultimately resolved in chancery court, he said.

However, when the Dabney Station Subdivision was built, the city gave the developer a variance to allow a five foot setback instead of the greater required in the city’s zoning ordinance.
Comer said that the Planning Commission needs guidance toward a standard policy to dealing with similar variance requests.

The matter consumed over 30 minutes of discussion among city officials who brought up restrictive covenants that affect property on Woodland Drive and also at Hunter’s Trace Subdivision.

•   The board attorney told the mayor and aldermen that he had prepared a letter to property owner Kirk Willingham about the city’s legal authority to install a master water meter in place of individual water meters previously used for mobile homes in Stagecoach Gap Trailer Park. Willingham had questioned the city’s authority at the city’s March 6 meeting.

“I found two statutes that I think justify it and the city’s got two ordinances that I think justify it,” Mitchell said.

•   Aldermen authorized the mayor to sign a maintenance agreement with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) for high mast lighting to be placed at the intersection of Highway 6/278 and Interstate 55. The installation is expected to begin at some time after the present resurfacing and modifications at the cloverleaf intersections are completed sometime in October.

•   The aldermen also agreed to a request by Mayor Jerry Autrey to spend up to $5,000 for fireworks at the annual Fourth of July celebration at the Batesville Civic Center.

Autrey said that the fireworks would be contingent on finding an additional $10,000 in private donor support.