The First Meeting

Lenoir City Council met Monday for their first real official business meeting with newly elected mayor, Tony Aikens and councilmen Jim Shields and Harry Wampler behind the table. 

One of the more interesting issues decided by council was a change in the employee health benefit costs. Mayor Aikens recommended that beginning in January any new employees hired will be required to pay for a portion of their health insurance. A new employee would pay 10% of the cost of a single policy or 20% on a family policy. There would be no change for current employees who currently have 100% of their health insurance premium paid by the city.

Overall the meeting went smooth with business as usual.  

Benefit plan changing in Lenoir City

Brittany Davenport News herald

Lenoir City Council voted Monday night to change their employee insurance company to Cigna, which closely resembles the city's current policy with Humana.

To renew with Humana would have cost the city an additional 10 to 12 percent, compared to an increase of a little more than 3 percent by switching to Cigna next year, according to the city's insurance representative, Chris Wampler. New council member Harry Wampler refrained from voting on the matter because of a conflict of interest with his son representing the city's insurance needs.

The board also approved requiring all new employees starting Jan. 1, 2011 to pay 10 percent for a single insurance policy plan and 20 percent for a family policy, with one councilman voting no. "I've got a problem with this," said Councilman Bobby Johnson, Sr. adding he always viewed the benefits the city pays for as a fringe benefit of working for the city.

Mayor Tony Aikens and councilman Mike Henline stressed the important of taking the burden of the cost off of the tax payers. "It's getting outrageous," Aikens said. The amount is not too much to ask of the employees, he said. "We don't need to keep putting the burden on the tax payer, I'll tell you that much."

"It's obvious the city has to do something with our insurance," Henline said. Aikens reiterated to Johnson that the policy would not affect current employees. 

Johnson said he did not care how much the cost would be. "To me it's discrimination. You're making some pay and others not," he said.

Aikens said he is sure there aren't many other city's that are paying 100 percent of insurance