Council approves city employee health insurance changes

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – City employees will pay less toward their health insurance premiums after the Columbiana City Council approved changes to a 12-year-old ordinance March 17.

The council voted unanimously in favor of repealing the existing ordinance regarding Columbiana city employees’ health insurance premiums and replacing it with an ordinance requiring the city to pay 75 percent of the premiums, a 22-percent increase from the original amount.

The previous ordinance capped the amount the city paid toward employees’ health insurance premiums at 53 percent, meaning employees had to pay 47 percent of the total cost. Now, employees will pay only 25 percent.

“We are outdated,” Mayor Stancil Handley said during a discussion before the council voted on the ordinance. “We’re losing employees because we don’t pay any more toward premiums.”

The changes apply to employees on single and family insurance plans, and place Columbiana more evenly with other municipalities regarding rates in Shelby County, Handley said.

“We cannot keep on being a training ground for the rest of the county,” he said. “This affects every department. We’re losing people, good employees, and this will help some of that.”

Councilman Ricky Ruston expressed concern about the city’s operating expenses with the addition of more employee health insurance expenses.

“Our revenues have increased,” Handley said. “It’s very doable.”

During public comments, Columbiana Police Chief Lamar Vick thanked the council for listening to employees’ feedback about the previous health insurance rates, and supporting the changes.

“I commend the council and mayor for looking at that,” Vick said.

Handley said it was a “great move.”

“We are all in this together,” Handley said. “We can’t do it without good department heads (and) good employees.”

In other business, the council:

  • Approved a resolution amending the Fiscal Year 2019 budget to include expenditures for the fire department, administration and cemetery.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the application and accepting the award of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant from the Alabama Public Library Service for new public-use computers at the Columbiana Public Library.
  • Authorized the purchase of a new computer for the assistant city clerk from their Fiscal Year 2019 computer hardware budget, the cost not to exceed $800.62.
  • Approved an increase for police department dispatcher Nick Beasley for completion of training effective on the next pay cycle, and moving from part-time to full-time.