Public hearing set for permissive medical levy

Special to the I-O by Karla Breding, City Council

On March 15, at 8 p.m. during the regular City of Conrad council meeting there will be a public hearing regarding a Permissive Medical Levy for partial funding of employee health insurance.

The city does not offer health insurance at this time and has not since the late 1980s.

The hearing allows the public to voice any concerns they may have regarding the plan to provide health insurance to full-time, eligible employees effective July 1.

Currently the city receives insurance coverage provided by the Montana Municipal Insurance Authority (MMIA) for property, liability and workmen’s compensation.

Adding health insurance coverage to this will provide a complete package of coverage for the city.

MMIA was established exclusively for municipalities in Montana as a means of providing economical insurance coverage specifically designed for them. There are currently 73 municipalities that participate in the health insurance coverage alone.

The estimated cost per employee for the 2010-11 fiscal years will be $450 a month which includes a prescription plan.

Each participating employee will be required to contribute $25 of their own funds towards this coverage.

Currently the full-time employees receive a monthly “in-lieu” stipend of $225 towards purchasing their own insurance coverage.

If an eligible, current employee declines the insurance coverage and can provide evidence of coverage through another eligible health plan, they will be allowed to continue to receive the $225 stipend.

New employees after July 1 will not have that option. There are currently 18 full-time eligible employees, which does not include the mayor and council members.

It is not expected that all city employees will take advantage of the insurance coverage offered by the city. Employees will have the option of adding additional family members at their own cost.
Montana law allows for part of the expense of the coverage to be paid for by a Permissive Medical Levy.

The remainder can be covered by current budgets and employee contributions. An estimated 13.39 mills will be needed to cover the increase in cost which is based on all eligible employees’ participation.

The number of estimated mills was determined based off the 2009 Certified Taxable Valuation information provided by Pondera County.

The official numbers for FY-2010-11 from the county will not be available until August, so only estimates can be given.

To figure the impact on your taxes, whether commercial or residential, the following are two ways to calculate the estimated impact of the proposed millage increase.

Both ways are figured using the 2009 values that are available at this time.

First, go to www.cadastral.mt.gov and click on “parcel search,” then click “owner” on the next screen. Enter owner name (last name first) and choose Pondera County from the county drop down box.

Then click “search.” If a list comes up, find the parcel you wish to view and click on “view parcel details.”

Find the 2009 taxable market value and multiply it by 2.93 percent then take that number and multiply it by .01339.

This calculated value is the estimated tax dollar impact for the parcel. The estimated tax impact is based on 13.39 mills.

A property with a 2009 Taxable Market Value of $62,049 would amount to $24.34 in taxes for a year or $2.03 per month.

The second way to see your tax impact is to look at your 2009 property tax statement and find your taxable value in the upper right hand portion of the statement.

Multiply the taxable value listed by .01339 to find the estimated tax dollar impact. A property with a taxable value of 1,818 on the 2009 tax receipt would amount to $24.34 in taxes.

It is best to do a search on your own parcel(s) or use your own tax bill(s) to come up with the best estimate of how the millage will affect your taxes.

You may come to city hall and view samples of actual information taken from the cadastral site and tax bills during normal office hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The city council members and the mayor feel that health insurance is a benefit that the city employees deserve and is long overdue.

Not only will it help with the stability of the work force but will help when recruiting new hires.