City insurance for beach commissioners to get another look

St. Augustine Beach commissioners will revisit their decision to allow themselves to be covered by city health insurance plans.

 

The commission voted unanimously this month to allow themselves to enroll in the city’s medical insurance, which would pay 100 percent of the premium for commissioners and 70 percent for dependents.

The topic, which will be on the June 5 City Commission agenda, has to come back to the board for a vote on a budget resolution to cover the cost, City Manager Max Royle said.

The resolution would transfer about $15,000 for the cost of coverage for those who have enrolled for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, he said.

For an entire fiscal year, the cost of providing insurance for one commissioner is about $7,610.

The city also pays commissioners a salary of $6,920 a year for their work, according to Melissa Burns, the city’s chief financial officer. The city pays the mayor $7,549.

So far, only a few commissioners have signed up for city insurance for themselves and a couple of family members: Mayor Rich O’Brien and his wife, Vice Mayor Undine George and her husband, and Commissioner Maggie Kostka, Royle said.

Another reason for returning the issue to the City Commission is that some commissioners said they have heard concerns that the public wasn’t given enough opportunity to comment.

At the May meeting, the item was labeled on the agenda as “Health Insurance Benefits for Commissioners: Request by Vice Mayor George to discuss,” and backup materials indicated the commission could make some decision on the issue.

George said it is discriminatory for the city to deny commissioners the same benefit that other employees receive, and she said commissioners are on-call all of the time and should be given the same benefit as other employees.

Commissioner Margaret England said she talked with Royle about opening the discussion back up because of her concerns, which surround the 100 percent coverage and how the beach will pay for the insurance. She said 100 percent coverage is a bit unusual.

“Health insurance is so important to everyone,” England said on Tuesday. “However, I do agree the way we went about it was a bit hasty.”

 

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