Employees of the Webster Parish Police Jury may see changes to their insurance policy due to a renewal, which is scheduled to happen in May.
"What we are seeing is a nine percent increase in premiums," insurance agent Jim Ritchie said to jurors in a committee meeting Tuesday. "The good news – it is less of an increase than we have seen in previous years."
Ritchie attributed the overall rising cost of health care and the Affordable Health Care Act to the premium increases.
"Premiums were rising at seven to nine percent years before the health care law was passed," he said. "About two percent of the increases may be a result of the new law."
Several jurors voiced concerns about passing on the rising premium cost to low wage earning employees.
"If our employees who make $8.25 an hour are paying half of their income to insure themselves and their families... that's a hard spot to be in," said Charles Odom, District 8. "We owe it to the employees to make sure we are making the right decision."
Jury secretary Ronda Carnahan said while all jurors want to take care of the employees, the issue is financial.
"Costs have increased drastically," she said. "The problem is there has been no increase in revenue to offset it."
Vera Davidson, District 10 juror, noted Webster Parish employee benefit package is more attractive than surrounding parishes.
"Aside from Bossier, when you compare what we offer our employees to that of Claiborne or other parishes, we are good to our people."
Davidson cited reasons supporting her opinion.
"Our employees do not have a co-pay when they go to the doctor, while in other parishes the employees do," she said.
"We have a good benefit package and we will continue to keep the employees in mind, but we will have to make changes."
The jury voted to table the decision to have more time to reflect how their decisions would impact not only employees but also the budget.
"We have discussed this for quite some time," said Davidson. "We need to make a decision soon."
A special meeting regarding insurance matters will be held in the upcoming weeks.
A public hearing was held to share information about the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant program.
A public hearing will be held to introduce an ordinance to set the franchise fee on cable or video services, which will be voted on in May.
Following bid procedures, two diesel trucks were purchased.
Phillip Krouse will fill the unexpired term of Ben Gorman, who resigned from the parish Fire Protection District #10 board.
A beer permit was approved for the Springhill Country Club.
Doyline Water Works District #1 board was appointed/reappointed.