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Tama Council weighs employee health insurance options

September 7, 2013
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Health insurance rate changes for Tama city employees continue to be under study by city council members. The new federal Affordable Care Act is projected by the city's insurance carrier to affect rates.

How much cost and what adjustment to make was the topic for the council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Members Crystal Kaufman, Mike Carnahan and Robert Tyynismaa decided only input from council members Steve Baier and Kenny McAdoo was needed before path is chosen.

They voted 3-0 to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9 to come up with a decision.

The options presented by Jake Jacobson, agent for Independent Insurance, at the previous council meeting on Aug. 19 call for a decision by the city no later than Sept. 13. The insurance carrier is offering an option to renew the health coverage early on dec. 1 to lock-in rates and coverage for the next year.

This is due to the uncertainty of how the Affordable Care Act will play in the rate and coverage structure.

As a result, the city can stay with current coverage which carries a $2,000 deductible of which the employee pays a portion totaling $500 and the city picks up the remaining $1,500. This will cost the city $19,957 monthly, up 19 percent from the current $16,758.

A second option is to shift to a plan carrying a $3,000 deductible and the possible raise in the portion picked up by the employee. This will cost $18,305 monthly, up nine percent over current rates.

Under both plans the city pays all of the premium amounts. Covered are 14 city employees which include a number with families.

City Clerk Judy Welch said in discussing the options with employees they "don't like a raise" but realize something is likely to happen. "The biggest part is they don't have to pay part of their premiums," she said.

New Fire Truck

Fire Chief Paul Ellenbecker was given permission on a 3-0 council vote to obtain plans and specifications and three bids for a new main pumper truck for the department.

He said the current lead pumper was nearing 30 years old and could be expected to "begin to nickel and dime" for repair costs.

The department is proposing a 4x4 truck with an expected cost range between $260,000-$310,000. Ellenbecker said firefighters have decided to forego a custom cab which will save some $60,000 in cost.

He said it takes a year to build a new truck and he would anticipate having bids by January and being able to order the truck by April or May for spring, 2015, delivery.

The Tama Fire Department also has a 1994 model secondary pumper / tanker, a year 2000 tanker and a 1990 model rescue truck. In addition there are five grass trucks supplied by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Firefighter Brian Hanus said there has been an effort to begin a replacement rotation plan but it has not occurred in the past.

Mayor Dan Zimmerman explained if one were adopted, the city would borrow funds to pay for a new truck and when it was paid off, an new loan would be initiated to pay for another replacement.


Council members voted 3-0 to approve buying an all-terrain-vehicle at a cost of $8,250 from the Tama Police Department for use by the other five city departments. The vehicle was acquired by a seizure then a trade by the police department. The original vehicle had been found to be used in damage to the Tama-Toledo Country Club course and then forfeited to the department.

It was the intention to have ATV available for all city department use. However, it was learned equipment obtained through court forfeiture could only be used, in this case by police.

The money paid to the police department will be channelled to the purchase of laptop computers. This equipment will be required by the change to a "paperless" court system made in Tama County next year.

Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren has advised all law enforcement agencies in a memo to be ready with proper equipment for the switch.

The council also approved hiring Andrea Young as a part-time officer on the police department at $14 hourly. Young is a full-time Toledo Police officer.

Police Chief Jeff Filloon said Young would work primarily in vacation and emergency capacities.

In other business Monday the council:

said dates for lifting of the city burn ban for primarily the disposal of leaves will be discussed at the Sept. 16 council meeting.

heard a proposal from Mayor Zimmerman to fund about $12,000 in cost for the first phase of equipping the new Tama Skateboard Park from city reserve funds. Zimmerman praised what he said was a "great turnout" of volunteers for the cement pour on Saturday, Aug. 24. A total of 82 yards of concrete were poured in two hours. More volunteer work on the project was set for this week.

approved sale of two lots and the portion of an adjoining lot to Willy and Kelli Russell in city-owned Indian Hills Addition for $10,000.

approved applying to take part in another round of Housing Rehabilitation through the Region 6 Planning Commission. A total of 12 families were assisted through the last program with housing improvements of up to $25,000 each.

heard Mayor Zimmerman call for consideration of a proposed sidewalk extension along U.S. Highway 63 (Harding street) near the South Tama High School at the Sept. 16 council meeting. Zimmerman said a Letter to the Editor in a recent Tama News-Herald had again called attention to the matter.



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