• 77°
Hartselle Enquirer

HU will pay extra benefit expense

By By J.W. Greenhill, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle Utilities employees will be paying slightly more for their medical coverage, but HU board members agreed to absorb most of a 17 percent increase in the cost of health insurance.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama informed HU earlier in the summer that its health insurance premiums would be increasing. In light of the increase, board members were considering three options: provide the same benefits; pass a larger portion of the insurance cost on to employees; or look for a different insurance provider with a lower rate.
In the end, board members opted to pay the additional cost to maintain current benefits.
"This is a cost of doing business and we have to absorb it. We must provide good benefits for our employees," Board Chairman Buzz Howell said. "I just hope our employees realize what it costs to provide them these benefits."
The approved insurance will cost the utility approximately $330,000, including an increase amounting to nearly $50,000.
And while individual employees will be paying onl.y slightly more for health insurance, approximately $15 per month, employees opting for family coverage will be paying 27 percent of the difference between individual and family coverage or approximately $185 per month.
And increasing insurance costs weren't the only struggle board members faced at Monday night's meeting, the first held in HU's new building. Board members had to speak loudly just to be heard over the air conditioning.
After listening to the loud air conditioning for much of the meeting, board members directed General Manager George Adair to work with the building contractor to reduce the noise produced in the board meeting room when the air conditioning is in operation.
The new administrative and service center is in its final punch list stage before acceptance by the utility and is $58,000 under contract budget according to Adair. Final payments have not been made yet.
In other business, the board:
Stacy Ellis of Gresham-Smith Engineering told the board that the cost of the change would be absorbed by a $30,000 contingency allowance in the original contract so there will be no increase in the contract price.