Selectmen reappoint Jones as CAO, name interim city clerk

By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

West Point Selectmen voted 3-2 to reappoint the city's chief administrative officer Randy Jones at its meeting on Tuesday night at West Point City Hall.

Ward 1's Leta Turner and Ward 3's Ken Poole voted against reappointing Jones. Jones has served as the city's CAO since 2008 and previously served as city clerk and deputy CAO.

Selectmen also voted to name Reverend Eddie Longstreet as interim city clerk, following the news that Delores Doss would retire at the end of the year, with her last day being at the end of next week.

Selectmen voted 3-2 to appoint Longstreet to the position in an interim capacity, with Poole and Turner also voting against.

Doss also oversees the city's payroll and human resources, so city officials will begin the process in the next three weeks of separating the city clerk position and human resources.

A special meeting date has not yet been set.

Turner and Poole both expressed their displeasure at the decision, questioning why the board was just now hearing about the potential appointment and making a decision during the meeting as opposed to advertising for it.

CITY STICKS WITH BCBS

Health insurance costs aren't going up for West Point city workers.

Selectmen opted to stick with the current Blue CrossBlue Shield coverage even though United Health Care offered an alternative that would have been about $6 a month cheaper in premiums for workers.

But they would have to pony up more out-of-pocket expenses. All things considered, Selectmen said the savings to the city and the workers were more than offset by not forcing workers to scramble to make sure their doctors and prescriptions were covered and to fork over more for co-pays.

"Most of all, I feel like we need to take care of our employees' best interests," Mayor Robbie Robinson said.

According to city Human Resources Director and City Clerk Delores Doss, about 125-130 of the city's 175 employees are on the city's insurance plan. The worker pays 15 percent of the premium for individual coverage while the city pays the remaining 85 percent. The employee pays the entire family coverage premium.

By traditional standards, the city has had an unusual last 18 months with its health care insurance.

In July 2016, the city decided to stick with BCBS as the carrier.

Late last year, because of the city's good claims history, the insurance giant lowered the city's rate 12 percent, something that is almost unheard of in the industry.

This year, BCBS is maintaining those rates at $535.90 a month for the individual and $1,154.92 a month for family.

The individual coverage amounts to $80.38 a month for the employee.

The coverage includes a $500 deductible and out-of-pocket expense.

Kathy Comer, with Lyon Insurance, the city's insurance consultant, told Selectmen that United Health Care offered an option for $495.70 a month that would have required the employee to pay $74.35.

But it came with a $1,000 out-of-pocket.

The savings amount to $6.03 for the worker and $34.17 for the city each month. That's $410.04 a year for the city for each worker or about $51,000 for the city based on the number of employees currently enrolling in insurance.

During the discussion, Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer recounted the city's history with both companies. A dozen years ago, the city was with BCBS but switched to United Health Care which came in with a significantly lower price.

The city had a "couple of good years with" United Health Care but started losing doctors and seeing other problems, he said. Ultimately, its rates returned to at or above BCBS and the city switched back.

Comer said the impact of the different options was as varied as the employees themselves. Those with several doctor visits a year would eat up their premium savings with higher co-pays and out-of pocket costs. Prescription costs also could make a difference, Parks Director James Crowley noted.

"I would save the difference by sticking with Blue Cross," noted Building Inspector Jeremy Klutts, who suffered a serious illness two years ago and frequently has to see specialists. "I'm not the only one who has a similar situation."

Less change for the employees ultimately was the deciding factor, selectmen said.

The plan takes effect Jan. 1

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