Rise in health premiums shouldn't affect Columbus L&W customers

May 18, 2013 7:52:05 PM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


The implementation of a bridge plan two years ago will keep health insurance increases for Columbus Light and Water employees from affecting the pocketbooks of ratepayers and the employees themselves. 


During CL&W's monthly Board of Trustees meeting, Russell Brown of Brown Boyd Brown & Associates informed trustees that premiums, which saw a five-percent decrease last year, increased 18 percent this year. CL&W General Manager Todd Gale said those premiums fluctuate on a yearly basis. The hike would have been a concern had there not been a contingency plan in place, Gale said. 


"The plan covered any claims between $5,000 and $20,000. Over the course of the last two years we've been able to save $100,000 through that plan," Gale said. "What we've saved is going to help offset this increase. We won't have to pass increase on to employers or customers." 


Long-term, the premiums are an issue that could affect employees' insurance rates, he said. 


"If things got worse would have to take those expenses and have employees share (them)," he said. "The other option is we change our insurance plan. I don't know what next year will bring." 


In other business, the board authorized Gale to go before the Columbus City Council Tuesday and request applying for a Community Development Block Grant that would provide funding from the Mississippi Development Authority to make sewer improvements on 14th Avenue. If approved, the MDA would match $100,000 of city in-kind services and $100,000 in city money with $200,000 of its own. The combined funds would pay for camera inspection, cleaning and relining of sewer lines in disrepair, he said. 


"We would prioritize what needs to be fixed the most based on the number of people impacted," Gale said.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.