Lower premiums mean ‘raise’ for some city workers

Staff Writer

West Point city employees who participate in the city’s health insurance program are getting a small raise starting Jan. 1. And the city is getting some significant savings.

Meanwhile, the city is making another step toward a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant that could turn 160 dormant acres into a job-producing site. Also when they meet tonight, Selectmen will consider filling three spots on the consolidated city-county school board.

The city’s health insurance premiums are dropping from $519.82 a month for an individual employee to $441.85. The city pays 85 percent of the premium and the employee pays 15 percent.

Family coverage, which is paid by the employee, is dropping from $1,120.27 to $952.23.

For the city, the savings from January through June, which is the final six months of the current budget year, is $39,768 for the approximately 100 city employees who participate. For the employee, the six-month savings amount to $70.14.

On the family plan, the savings are $168.04 a month, or $1,008.24 for six months.

The city’s health insurance, which is provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield through Lyon Insurance, runs from January through December. So the savings will apply the second half of next year as well.

“It’s not a ton of money, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either,” Mayor Robbie Robinson said of the savings. “It’s a tribute to our employees who have worked to stay healthy and live healthy lifestyles.”

Selectmen are expected to formally approve the rates when they meet at 5:30 p.m. today.

On the grant, the board will select an engineer for the sewer and water extension to 160 acres purchased five years ago as part of the Prairie Belt Power megasite that eventually became home to Yokohama. In October, the city and Clay County supervisors agreed to put up $62,500 each in matching money for the ARC grant to pay for the work.The $500,000 is one of three grants the Golden Triangle Development Link got through working with the region’s congressional delegation and the Appalachian Regional Commission for projects in the area.

Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties got $1 million each. The money has to be used for economic development-related work.

The 160-acre site south of Yokohama Boulevard and west of Barton Ferry Road has road access, but no utilities. That has been an obstacle to getting a company to locate non the site, economic development officials said in October.

In the last two years, two food-processing companies rejected the location because they could get other sites with utilities already in place.

Preliminary estimates say water and sewer can be extended to the property for the $625,000. However, the two local governments would have to make up any extra plus administrative fees, if that becomes necessary.

On the up side, the expenses may be spread out over two budget cycles.

As for the school board appointments, the four-year terms of appointed members Elizabeth Bailey, Shay King and Nita Keys expire at the end of December. Bailey and King want to be re-appointed, but Keys doesn’t.

The other two board members, Tommy Coleman and Gene Brown are elected by voters living outside the city. They ran unopposed and were re-elected on the Nov. 6 ballot.