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Insurance Savings Halved, New Equipment Re-Evaluated in Mount Pleasant

Trustees voted Friday to stay with an option in the state insurance plan, but now have to figure out how to stay within the published levy and keep whole the list of purchases and projects they plugged into the 2013 budget.

Mount Pleasant's insurance savings are projected to be about half of what was possible after it decided to move to a lower-cost option with the state plan instead of a private insurer.

The move was made in part to avoid a possible lawsuit from the South Shore firefighters’ union.

Representatives from David Insurance and United Healthcare gave a comprehensive presentation to trustees and various village employees Friday about the HRA, but Trustee Karen Albeck said it was just too much too late in the budget process.

"Our former president and interim administrator had several meetings over the past few months with other insurance companies," said Trustee Karen Albeck. "No board members knew that the meetings were taking place and trustees would have preferred to be kept in the loop about discussions and presentations from insurance companies."

Because board members hadn't seen the particulars of the HRA plan until Friday, they were unwilling to go with the change.

For Trustee Gary Feest, the projected savings was not budgeted to help offset employee deductible costs, and that bothered him.

"There was no HRA in the budget with that $646,000 and I'm just not comfortable with that," he said.

Projected savings will be less, capital re-evaluated

By staying with a state insurance plan, the village is still saving money, about $372,000 up front; $172,000 from the medical plan and another $200,000 from using the dental coverage included in the state plan instead of using another vendor.

The question now facing trustees is how to pay for the purchases and projects they put in the budget using that projected $646,000 savings from the health insurance without exceeding the $16.9 million budget that has been published.
According to state statute, municipalities can tweak budgets and stay below the proposed levy, but after publication, officials cannot change the budget to go higher.

"(What to do) can be determined through the course of the year because if someone quits or retires, (that) can save $19,000 a month until those positions get replaced," Albeck said. "The key is to not exceed what was published and make adjustments as we go, but no need to carve any of them in stone. We have some time, but we had to move on the insurance."

Feest agreed.

"Now that our numbers are programmed we can do the tweaking from here. The finance department says we have options," he said.

Some purchases trustees expected to address include a new ambulance, a used front-end loader, five new police squad cars, and $1.3 million in road projects.

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