homepage logo

City Council narrowly passes insurance item

By Staff | Oct 24, 2012

A retired policeman and retired firefighter very nearly sent the city back to the drawing board in regards to employee health insurance.

But in the end, a consent item approving insurance coverage for employees, retirees and dependents was approved 5-3 at the regular Cape Coral City Council meeting Monday at City Hall.

It was one of the more thoroughly discussed items in what was otherwise an anti-climactic meeting, where the possibility of fireworks and endless discussion on much-discussed items never really happened.

Councilmembers John Carioscia and Lenny Nesta and Mayor John Sullivan voted against the measure, which will increase the premium the city has to pay for its workers by 5 percent.

The added expense to the city will be about $500,000, which could be bad news for a balanced budget because it only allowed for a 3 percent increase.

It was decided the city would apply any profit-sharing payment from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the city, assuming the city gets one.

However, employees will have to pay the additional 5 percent for any dependent on their plan.

During last week’s workshop, city financial manager Victoria Bateman said the city’s provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, originally set out for a 10.8 percent premium increase, but the city negotiated it down to 5 percent.

Had the city decided against any premium increase, it would have meant a reduction in benefits.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz suggested giving employees the opportunity to opt out of the insurance plan in exchange for cash.

Bateman said allowing opt-outs would reduce the pool.

Also, City Council pulled and approved a consent item that would allow it to purchase a fuel management system to allow the city to track its fuel usage.

Councilmember Marty McClain lauded the item as something desperately needed.

“We never had a system to work for what we wanted. If you want a system that works, you just got it,” McClain said.

“The desire to make the city of Cape Coral accountable is in front of us. We chose to put it off last year. Now, we have a flagship system,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

The vote was 7-1, with Sullivan voting against it, saying the city was “buying a Mazerati when it only needs a Ford.”

Sullivan also voted against purchasing a used bucket truck for $69,900, saying rebuilding the old one for $50,000 was a better deal.

The rest of council disagreed, and voted 7-1 to buy the truck.

Also, council unanimously approved an ordinance that would cap overtime and leave what would be counted as wages for the purpose of pension calculations for police and fire.

The ordinance, which would allow the city to fall in line with state statutes, would cap overtime at 300 hours and disallow leave pay, and is considered a first step toward pension reform.

Council also OK’d an amendment to the future land use classification to mixed use on parcels west of Burnt Store Road, the first move to pave the way for a proposed RV resort in the area.

In other business, a resolution to approve a Planned Development Project called Burnt Store Center, which would include a gas station and a car wash was continued to Nov. 5.