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November 2, 2012

NEW ALBANY CITY COUNCIL: Gonder proposes health insurance for part-time employees

Subsidy would cover council members electing to take the coverage

NEW ALBANY —  Along with the final reading on the split of the parks department, the New Albany City Council is also set to vote on providing health insurance for part-time employees Monday.

The ordinance — sponsored by Councilman John Gonder — comes on the heels of the council abolishing its health insurance option last month. Per a 2009 vote, the council had made available the same health benefits package offered to full-time city employees to the body.

Though there has been dispute over what defines a part-time employee, no other workers not in full-time positions were offered the health insurance benefit afforded to the council.

The measure to be presented by Gonder is described by him as a subsidy for permanent part-time employees. While it would open up the pool for part-time workers, it would also allow council members to garner insurance coverage from the city again.

But the insurance premiums paid would be more, as Gonder’s proposal bases coverage amounts on a formula that would establish a pool of $148,500 annually to be used to subsidize insurance rates for all part-time workers.

The sum is based on the cost of a health savings account family plan for employees, which is about $16,500 annually, multiplied by nine, which is the number of council members in New Albany.

Gonder said that was the amount of money the council had more or less decided to spend in 2009 when it elected to provide its members with council coverage.

Though only three council members accepted the coverage, Gonder said the amount would have been $148,500 had all nine decided to accept the insurance.

But instead of the $148,500 being used just for nine people, Gonder said it would be spread out to cover all permanent part-time employees, which there are about 30 now counting the council.

Full-time employees pay 10 percent of their premiums, with the city picking up the remaining 90 percent. The program offered by Gonder wouldn’t be as lucrative as the full-time employee option, but he said part-time workers could pay a little more than $100 a month for single coverage.

“It’s not really a sweet deal in comparison, but it at least gives some inclusion into the system,” Gonder said.

He voted in favor of abolishing the council’s insurance last month, and said the difference in his measure is that it allows all permanent part-time employees to participate.

To qualify as a part-time employee, a person must work for the city for at least 90 days and earn a salary minimum of $700 a month. Part-time employees would not be required to accept the insurance.

Councilman Dan Coffey sponsored the ordinance to repeal the council’s health insurance option. He indicated Friday he would only support Gonder’s ordinance “as along as it’s put in there that this does not pertain to the council.”

The council is also scheduled to vote on a $75,000 appropriation to aid in the restoration of the Town Clock Church. The final reading on the ordinance to split the parks department, which was approved 6-3 on initial ballots last month, is listed as the last item of business on the agenda.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the third-floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building.


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