Athens Review, Athens, Texas

October 23, 2013

Better year for City

Medical insurance poses good and bad news

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Despite a decrease in sales tax allocation revenue in August, the city is experiencing a better year financially than they have recently.

City Director of Finance David Hopkins said at a special meeting of the city council on Wednesday that when everything is finalized for the fiscal year that ran through September, Athens is in pretty good shape.

“As of August, the general fund was still $519,000 in revenue, exceeding expense,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said the city still has year-end accruals to make, which will reduce that figure. Sales-tax allocations are positive. Hopkins projected Athens to be about $256,000 over budget for the year.

“Which is good,” Hopkins said. “We haven’t had that in a long time.”

Hotel motel taxes have reached $216,987, and property tax collections are about 98 percent, which is about normal for this time of year, Hopkins said.

“We’re .17 percent above last year, and last year was one of the high years for us,” Hopkins said.

The Council discussed upcoming agenda items concerning employee medical insurance. On Oct. 28, the city will name a broker to shop for the policy. The current broker of record is Creative Benefits. The council also discussed renewal of the medical insurance contract.

“On this one, we have good news and we have bad news,” City Administrator Pam Burton said. “We want to recommend we renew the contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield. They’re proposing a zero-percent rate increase, which is great. However, Obamacare is going to require a 3.5 percent increase regarding the rate which goes to fund Obamacare.”

The 3.5 percent Obamacare hike will go into effect Jan. 1.

The council also discussed a proposed change of the interlocal agreement with Henderson County for housing prisoners in the county jail. The county is proposing that the city begin paying for medical care of any Class C misdemeanor offenders Athens sends to the facility.

Those offenses would be on the scale of public intoxication, and account for a small percentage of those jailed. If a person is jailed with a Class C misdemeanor and a more serious charge, the county will continue to pick up the cost of medical care.