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Chesterfield committee in marathon session

The Chesterfield City Council’s Finance & Administration [F&A] Committee received both good and disappointing news and spent considerable time discussing those and other issues at its May 8 meeting.

The end result was a three-hour session that included agreements for more debate at future council or committee meetings and a recommendation to rescind an earlier council decision.

The committee reversed an earlier decision when it voted [3-1] to recommend that the council not host a meet-and-greet event with local state legislators and elected and appointed community leaders. Earlier this year, the F&A committee had recommended that a meet-and-greet event be held during the city’s July 22 “Yacht Rock” concert at the Chesterfield Amphitheater. The council subsequently gave its okay on a 6-2 vote and authorized spending up to $3,000 for the event.

However, with new committee assignments made after the April election, councilmembers Tom DeCampi [Ward 4] and Barbara McGuinness [Ward 1], who had voted against the proposal in March, were joined by new Councilmember Ben Keathley [Ward 2] in the new recommendation opposing the event. Councilmember Randy Logan [Ward 3] was the lone “no” vote.

The original council and F&A majorities concluded that the gathering – similar to what a number of municipalities around the state hold – was a good way to establish and build relationships, and communicate the communities’ interests and concerns to elected officials. However, the new committee majority argued that the public could perceive the event as a party at taxpayers’ expense; hence, the recommendation not to host the event.

The council will consider the new recommendation at an upcoming meeting.

The meeting’s good news dealt with the city’s workers’ compensation and health care programs. However, the latter topic sparked considerable debate about what should be done with a refund the city is to receive and the portion of premium costs that employees pay.

Due to its favorable claims experience in recent years, Chesterfield will have only a 2-percent rate increase in the coming year, according to a notice from the St. Louis Area Insurance Trust (SLAIT) health insurance pool. Also, the city will receive $130,681 in surplus premiums not paid out for health care claims in an earlier year.

To slow the rise in health care premium costs, Chesterfield adopted high-deductible coverage several years ago and implemented a health reimbursement plan [HRA] that reimburses employees up to 100 percent of their deductible payments. Savings from the high-deductible plan have exceeded what the city pays out under the HRA, according to a staff background memo on the health care costs issue.

The memo also included a number of graphs comparing Chesterfield’s health care costs per employee to other communities in the SLAIT plan. Chesterfield ranks near the bottom in its costs for employee family coverage and pays the lowest amount for a single employee’s coverage.

A city employee’s share of the premium cost is $100 monthly for single coverage and $383 for a family policy.

The recommendation from city staff was to use the $130,681 refund to pay the 2-percent premium increase and to fund the city’s HRA costs in the coming year. The refund amount is expected to cover both expenses.

After discussing the refund and employees’ share of the health care premiums, the committee unanimously approved resolutions by Logan to continue the SLAIT plan and to apply the refund as recommended by staff. Both measures now go to the full council for final action and are on the May 15 council agenda.

The committee also received information that the city’s workers’ compensation insurance cost will be the lowest possible, based on favorable claims experience. City Aadministrator Mike Geisel said Chesterfield ranks as the best of all SLAIT communities in its low amount of claims. The ranking illustrates the city’s emphasis on safety pays off both in preventing employee injuries and having lower insurance costs, he added.

A report on the projected costs of live streaming of city council meetings may have been a disappointment to anyone thinking the job could be done well on the cheap.

City staff researched the issue and, based on information from cities that now do live streaming, reported initial start-up costs would be about $31,000. With other ongoing expenses, including the need to hire at least two qualified employees, recurring annual costs would be $120,000, the report estimated.

After discussion, the committee took no action, pending further study of possible lower costs alternatives.

The committee also:

• Discussed a victim’s rights ordinance designed to keep crime victims informed about upcoming court dates and other matters related to their cases. City Attorney Chris Graville will draft for later consideration a proposed measure modeled after a state statute.

• Recommended the full council approve contributing 5 percent of funds received from TracFone Wireless to the Missouri Municipal League’s advocacy fund. The League represented 295 Missouri municipalities in a class action lawsuit when the prepaid wireless provider refused to pay license taxes on its services. Chesterfield settlement share was $30,847. This item also appears on the council’s May 15 agenda.

• Deferred an appointment of a city representative to the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District Board of Directors. The committee asked Geisel, who along with Mayor Bob Nation, now serves on the board, to provide information on what board members are asked to do and what qualifications they should have. Geisel first was named to the TDD board when he was director of public services. He recently noted his appointment as city administrator raised the possibility the council might want to name someone else to represent the city. He subsequently added he was willing to continue to serve on the TDD if that was the council’s decision.

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