Discussions on health insurance fund crisis are a ‘precursor’ to tough budget decisions for the city of Cedar Falls [Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa]

Discussions on health insurance fund crisis are a ‘precursor’ to tough budget decisions for the city of Cedar Falls [Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa]

Sept. 8-CEDAR FALLS – When discussing the big loss in the health insurance fund, the two top employees of the city said that they need to discuss the problems in advance to make his next budget.

The city is looking at a loss in the self-insured health insurance fund $1.3 million. Tuesday, a City Council discussed a $900,000 transfer from last year’s balance to help settle. Finance and Business Operations Director Jennifer Rodenbeck He told the council that officials will discuss future employee benefits with their money.

These are examples of discussions that could lead to “difficult” decisions for officials in November when they set goals for the coming year.

“This is the beginning, we have big things that will be in front of us in the coming session,” said the City Administrator. Ron Gaines. “We’re going to have to look at making some very difficult decisions, and I can tell you financially the city is still in good shape, you as a council can do whatever you want but we can’t. do it all. That’s going to be a problem going forward.”

Despite the difficulties, Rodenbeck said after the meeting that the city has not reached the point where it decides to leave the fund established by the employer to cover the financial risk of providing health care to employees, and is not looking for another insurance “system”. structural change.”

The city has operated under its own self-insured fund for years. And any change would also mean agreeing to changes in collective bargaining agreements with labor unions, he said.

At the meeting, Rodenbeck said the city has avoided buying insurance from dealers because it believes the coverage is cheaper.

“We (the city) don’t have a profit margin,” he said. “When you buy insurance, you have to pay the company to make money, so we’ve always thought it’s very difficult to insure yourself.”

Additionally, Rodenbeck said management is hesitant to ask employees to add more to the health insurance fund because of “the market we’re in right now.”

“Benefits are very important to employees,” he said in explaining his one tool he uses in competing with employers to recruit and retain employees.

Before the council approved the transfer by a 6-1 vote, Councilor Dave Sires opposition, Rodenbeck said the health insurance fund reached $1.9 million.

He told me “$1.9 million It sounds like a lot, but, you get lost $1.3 million in one year, it won’t take long for the reserves to run out. To be honest, a $900,000 it may not be enough. But it has to be for another year or two, or to get us into the next budget where we’re going to talk about what we want to do in terms of services. “

The $900,000 taken out of $2.2 million additions were made available at the end of fiscal year 2022. The deadline was June 30and the city is in the process of closing a lot of books.

After removing $900,000that goes away $1.3 million in surplus, $328,333 from Iowa Fitness center program support for federal COVID-19 funding.

The council’s vote allowed the money to be sent to the recreation fund to help pay for water park operations or other recreational activities.

Someone $595,874 and the annual salary of the city.

The money makes up for the money that cities, counties and schools lost when the state cut the business and industrial property tax in 2013. The money is running out and the agency has already asked for just one job.

Similarly, the remaining approx $300,000 The surplus will be transferred to the development fund to “help offset any project that sees an increase in costs due to inflation, or to use a project that is known to be using General Fund Savings (GFS) on CIP,” according to city documents. .

Sires countered this by keeping some of them $2.2 million the money left in the general fund, can be used to help reduce property tax increases in the future, because, as was the case earlier this year, the council is looking for areas to cut from its budget.

But Rodenbeck disputed his claims, saying it would be to the taxpayer’s best interest if they chose to transfer.

“Whether you use the money for projects and health insurance now, and reduce future taxes in your CIP or your trust and agency levy, or you keep the money in a general fund and remove property taxes in next year’s budget, it’s the same,” said Rodenbeck. “It’s still a property tax break.”

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