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LCUB approves health care changes

Lenoir City Utilities Board approved a change to its employee health care plan, pending union approval, at its meeting Monday, April 19.

“We can’t keep paying more and more,” Councilman Mike Henline said.

LCUB has faced increasing health care costs each year, and LCUB general manager Shannon Littleton said he and a committee of union and non-union employees met to discuss changing the plan.

“We had a very deep discussion [about how] to help stabilize insurance costs,” Littleton said.

“I’m not sure how the union will react,” he added.

The plan increases deductibles from $100-$500 to $500-$1,000; co-pays up from $10 to $20; emergency room co-pays from $100 to $250 and prescription costs from $10, $15 and $30 to $10, $35 and $50.

“The committee was very cognizant of the fact there was an issue … we all worked on it, and I thought it was a great success,” Littleton said of the proposed plan.

“These are small changes with significant savings,” he added.

The increased deductibles, Littleton said, likely would only be met by about 32 percent of LCUB employees. Currently, 433 employees are covered by the healthcare plan.

Vice Mayor Eddie Simpson, who led the meeting in Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire’s absence, said LCUB would face drastic consequences if the union didn’t approve the new healthcare plan, mentioning hiring freezes or layoffs.

“I would like to ask they really consider this and help us out,” Simpson said.

“We can continue to operate if we level some of this stuff off,” he added.

Littleton said the changes were merely to cut out-of-control costs, not to decrease benefits to employees.

“Do I want the employees to have the very best insurance? Of course I do. But we have to do the best to manage this company,” Littleton said.

“This is a big step and a lot of savings. We’ll have to take drastic action if we don’t get these changes,” he added.

Henline moved to approve the new health plan, subject to the union’s approval. Former Farragut Alderman Joel Garber seconded; the motion was unanimously approved.

The Board wanted to get union approval for the new plan before May 1, when the current healthcare insurance rates rise.

In other business, the Board:

• Approved Brown Jake & McDaniel to audit LCUB accounts for the 2009 fiscal year

• Approved the TVA reimbursement agreement for the annual SAS 70 audit

• Awarded a bid for a new gated entrance into the LCUB warehouse and garage building to Valley Excavating and Curbing LLC, for a low bid of $17,520

• Awarded a bid for video taping and sewer cleaning project to Performance Contracting Inc., for a low bid of $25,287.50

• Authorized the wastewater department to request City Council to approve the General Wastewater Regulations Sewer Use Ordinance, per Environment Protection Agency requirements.


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