City prepares budget for insurance cost increase

HOUGHTON – Employee insurance and benefits were a topic in the City Council’s last session on next year’s budget on Wednesday.

The city’s insurance budget went up by $465,000, based on a 4.5 percent increase forecast by its provider. The city switched to Blue Cross last year from Consumers Mutual, which went out of business.

The city moved most fields in the city’s “other expenditures” fund to a safety department in the general fund, as most of them are related to that. The exception is $131,030 in expenses paid direct from pay, which has been used by the employee benefit fund for several years as a contingency to cover large sick leave payments.

City Manager Eric Waara said the city will also look to budget some wages for a new position that would partially be used to keep the city’s safety manuals updated to comply with the newest regulations.

“Every year the OSHA regulations change and you have to insert those into your manuals,” he said.