Also from council meeting, Sunday alcohol sales to be on ballot
Following a request by Kroger, Jasper city council members on Monday approved a measure to allow city voters to chose whether or not to have Sunday alcohol sales by the package in area stores. Voters have previously approved Sunday sales in restaurants within the city limits. Jasper Attorney Bill Pickett said the referendum would likely be on the ballot in the November general election.
“My position has always been we should put it on a referendum and put it to the voters for people who live in the city to decide,” said Mayor John Weaver. “It’s not whether (we) want to sell alcohol or not it’s whether the people want it. The state legislature felt it was something they wanted local (jurisdictions) to make that determination.”
The move was approved in a 4-1 vote with Councilman John Foust casting the dissenting vote.
• Mayor Weaver said the city’s lower baseball field would be the site in April for a scene in a motion picture. The city will take down the current dugouts and movie crews will install new ones along with new bleachers that will be left after filming.
“They want to utilize the baseball field for a scene in the movie and the movie company is in the process of drawing up some plans,” Weaver said. “They will leave us with a very nice facility when they leave.”
Film crews should be in town around the week of April 7 for the two-day shoot and the fields will be closed. Weaver said they had scheduled the shoot for a break in the game schedule.
“Except for practice no one should be inconvenienced and we’ll have a movie come to town and new dugouts and bleachers,” he said.
• Faced with a 47 percent increase on an already expensive health care plan, council members approved a new coverage plan for city employees. Last year the city paid over $548,000 in insurance premiums for its 78 employees enrolled in their health plan. The new plan will see a net decrease of five percent in costs so Williams said the city’s annual cost will be $519,960.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield lost money with payouts on the city last year and that’s where the 47 percent increase is coming from,” said Matt Bidwell of MSI Benefits, the city’s health care broker.
The new plan with Aetna will have increased costs for city employees and reduced coverage but will allow the city to save five percent on premiums.
“The city’s employees are currently covered under the BCBS plan with a $500 deductible and after they meet a deductible it pays 100 percent. That’s a pretty rich plan,” Bidwell said.
The new plan features a$1,000 deductible with bigger co-pays but employees have an option between two different service plans.
Williams said the city didn’t budget any increase for health coverage for 2012.
“We really didn’t budget it because we knew we couldn’t afford it. This five percent decrease will be a really good cushion.”
• Williams reported all the city’s departments are currently operating within budget and tax collections are on target for this time of year.
Auditors are scheduled to review the city’s 2011 budget and will be at city hall for the next two weeks.
“All funds ended in the black for last year so we’re very happy about that,” Williams said.