Obion officials upset by hospital-insurance standoff

Obion officials upset by hospital-insurance standoff

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
City officials in Obion are upset and concerned about the standoff occurring between Baptist Memorial Health Care and BlueCross of Tennessee.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Mayor Rodney Underwood said about a $1,700 monthly increase in the city’s premium if the city opts for a plan that would allow city employees to remain with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City. He made his comment during a 45-minute city council meeting Monday night.
Obion has 10 full-time and one part-time worker. The city is facing the option of paying a higher premium to be able to remain with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City or switch insurance plans and go to other in-network hospitals.
The mayor appeared agitated by the dilemma.
“I just say we go to Dyersburg or Martin,” he said in frustration.
“We’re just all stuck in the middle of this thing,” he added.
Several city employees at Monday night’s meeting said switching to another hospital would be a problem since their doctors are in Union City and work with the Union City hospital.
Underwood said the city is facing a fast-approaching deadline to make a decision. So, the council unanimously agreed to have the mayor meet with the city’s attorney, Roger Fisher, to determine what options are open to the city. There was some discussion about whether a breach of contract is involved.
In a related matter, the council decided to advertise for bids for workers’ compensation and liability insurance for city workers.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council approved some administrative changes to city policy and moved forward with the planned hiring of a new police officer for the city.
The council unanimously approved giving the mayor the authority to spend up to $2,500 without council approval. Previously, the mayor could spend up to $500. The council also agreed to switch from two meetings a month to meeting only once a month, on the first Monday of the month.
Police officer Jimmy Wilson has plans of retiring around the first of the new year, according to Underwood. The council voted to advertise for applicants to fill the vacancy.
In other action Monday night, the council:
• Discussed its policy of paying for firefighters to go through First Responder training. The city recently paid $578 for two firefighters to go through the training, and now the firefighters have left the Obion Volunteer Fire Department. Underwood suggested changing the policy to protect the city’s investment. No action was taken Monday night.
• Was informed by Underwood it will cost the city $2,800 per well to have the city’s two water wells insulated. He said the bid was higher than the city had expected and he has been looking for another less expensive contractor to do the work.
“I would hope that we could find someone else to do it,” he said.
“They (the wells) have never properly been insulated,” Public Works Director Randy Evans told the council.
Council member James Depriest said he would try contact some friends who have done that kind of work and see if they would be interested in insulating the wells. He said he would report back to the council.
• Was informed the city’s new emergency warning siren is expected to be delivered today and will be installed at the city’s public safety building. Underwood said some modifications may have to be made to get the unit to fit properly on the radio tower above the public safety building.
• Agreed to have Robert Albright remove a condemned house at 12th and Main streets. He will charge the city his regular hourly fee to remove the house and the city will have to pay an additional $40 per ton and $100 per truckload to haul the debris to the local landfill. It is expected the total bill to remove the house will be around $1,000. If the bill is less than that amount, the mayor was authorized to move forward with removing a second condemned house in town at the same rates.
• Was informed all city vehicles and equipment are being tagged and inventoried so the city can track usage and maintenance, according to Underwood.
• Was informed by the mayor he has appointed a police committee consisting of Jason Moore, Renee Webber and Terry Ledbetter. He has also appointed an Obion housing board consisting of Eugene Hudgins, Ruth Valliancourt, Mandy Correa, Donald Bloxom and Ledbetter.
• Approved an agreement with Ken-Tenn Wireless that will allow the Internet provider to hook up an antenna on the city’s Sanders Road water tower. In exchange, Ken-Tenn Wireless will provide city departments with free Internet access, will network city computers and will work with city officials on developing the city’s website. Underwood said the agreement would save the city about $3,000 a year.
• Was informed by the mayor the city is owed $8,806 in delinquent 2009 property taxes and after the first of the year the city will get a report on 2010 delinquent taxes.
“We need to get these taxes collected,” Underwood said.
He will work with the city attorney on a newspaper ad identifying the delinquent tax accounts and encouraging payment of the delinquent taxes.
Monday night’s meeting was opened in prayer by council member Polk Glover and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Underwood. Council member Mike Miller was absent from the meeting.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 12.4.12

Leave a Comment