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City faces hefty hike in insurance cost
CANNELTON - Cannelton Public Works and Safety Board members voted at a regular meeting Nov. 12 to deny a request to waive the city's monthly $15 trash fee for one resident.
A man who operates a business out of his residence has made arrangements to have a private hauler collect his trash, and asked to stop paying the fee, city attorney Bill Shaneyfelt told the board. He said the current ordinance requiring the fee contains no provision for residents to opt out. If the board wanted to approve the request, it would have to send a recommendation to the city's common council that the ordinance be changed, he explained.
Saying he didn't want to set a precedent that would invite similar requests, board member Dale Duke offered a motion to deny the request, which member Lynn Fulkerson and Mayor Melvin McBrayer backed.
In a common-council meeting that followed, city leaders approved an ordinance vacating a block-long section of Boyd Road behind the floodwall. The issue was to be addressed last month, Shaneyfelt said, but lack of a quorum sent it to this month's meeting. No one appeared last month or at the Nov. 12 meeting to remonstrate against it, and adjoining landowners expressed support or no objection, he added.
The council also approved a preliminary request for a $30,000 economic-development loan for Jim and Renae Lawson, who intend to re-open the Rumors restaurant and bar. Jim Lawson said he hopes to employ six to 10 people, and asked for a 15-year repayment period.
Approval was granted, also, to a request to create a handicap-parking area on St. Louis Avenue near Ninth Street for two disabled residents who live across the street from each other. The ordinance the council approved must be advertised and won't go into effect for 30 days, Shaneyfelt noted.
Insurance on the Rise
The council opted not to pass an insurance-cost increase to city employees. Clerk-Treasurer Mary Snyder said Indianapolis-based insurance company Benicorp went bankrupt and "we had to go to another company," whose rates were significantly higher.
The city's ordinance on employee health insurance says any increase is passed to employees.
"We were the first council to have employees pay," Councilman Steve Bennett said of a benefit that used to be free. Council action in response to increasing costs changed that two to three years ago, and two increases have been implemented since then, he noted before offering a motion that will have the city bear the added cost.
Snyder said the city is considered high risk and is unlikely to find cheaper rates.
She said the city was paying $7,057 per month to Benicorp and now pays $10,712 to United HealthCare, with offices in Minnetonka, Minn.
"Mary put together a fairly comprehensive package with quotes from several companies," Shaneyfelt said.
Police Chief Kenny Kellems said he hopes to buy one new police car versus the two he sought previously "due to the cost; they average $22,000 plus about $2,000 for accessories." Instead of buying a second new vehicle, he said, repairs will be made to a car driven by Patrolman Mike Humphrey.
It and others will get the same new graphics "so everyone knows who we are," Kellems said.
Councilman Bruce Myers suggested the issue be tabled "to let the new administration make the decision," he said in reference to the recent election that will seat a new mayor and council members at the first of the year. "This will impact the city for the next few years."
Kellems didn't object, but noted, "the longer we wait, the price goes up."
Councilwoman Karen Herzog registered the lone nay vote on the motion. McBrayer made multiple attempts to get the attention of Councilman Snooks Scarboro, who was reviewing claims forms, before Councilman Dale Duke explained the motion and sought his vote.
The council also approved an ordinance offered by Snyder transferring $15,820 within city funds.
She said the police and street departments had exhausted money budgeted for gas. The ordinance means no additional cost to the city.
Council members also approved the advertisement of an elected-officials-salaries ordinance.
Bennett noted salaries reflected in the ordinance are the same as this year's. The mayor will receive $18,500 in 2008.
The clerk-treasurer's pay is set at $20,000 and each council member will receive $15,000.
The council will take final action on the ordinance at their Dec. 18 meeting, at which the public may offer comments.