By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Much to the relief of a number of city employees, the city council on a 4-0 vote, passed a permissive medical levy Monday evening.
By law, the city may raise funding for a medical levy after a public hearing without having a city-wide election.
The cost for the health insurance policy is estimated to be $450 a month for which eligible employees will have to kick in $25 out of their pocket.
A number of city residents showed up to speak out or ask questions at the 8 p.m. public hearing, one being Tom Farrenkopf who said he was against the levy to insure a small group of people within the city. He also felt it was poor timing with the bad economy and opposed it for economic reasons.
I-O editor Buck Traxler echoed similar reasons but also wanted to know what the administrative fee was going to be. He felt it was wrong to raise taxes when it wasn’t known how many policies would be picked up, and help pay for a pay raise for someone out of Conrad to administer the policy when so many people at home can’t afford to purchase health insurance for themselves.
He also noted that it wouldn’t be too much longer before the city would be coming to raise taxes for water, trash, and sewer and maybe to the water treatment plant.
Stephanie Moerkerke wondered if MMIA, (Montana Municipal Insurance Authority)) was a company under Montana law, for which the answer is, yes it is.
Jim Baker wondered about the cost of the stipend paid to employees to help defray health insurance costs and when that would go up. Mayor John Shevlin said the MMIA worked hard to keep costs and rates down.
Councilman Wally McHenry noted that the stipend started out at $150 and it took 25 years to get it where it is today.
The motion was made and passed on a 4-0 vote of the council. Carolynn Donath from the library stood up and commented, “This is huge for the city.”
A number of city employees on hand for the meeting thanked the council for their hard work and passing the medical levy.
In other action from in the chambers, the council approved building permits, four in all, at 502 S. Delaware to fix a leaky garage roof; 312 S.
Michigan to build a new home; 307 S. Iowa for flooring and windows and at 320 S. Michigan to replace a garage.
Aldermen approved the use of Norley Hall at Blue Sky Villa for an event planned by the Pondera County Extension office.
Discussion on the weed ordinance was tabled until the next meeting. The city moved to offer dirt for sale at $1.50 per cubic yard for the Industrial Park, expressed their support for employer support of National Guard and Army Reserve personnel and allowed Chief Gary Dent an extension of excess vacation time which he has not been able to use.