Olive Hill City Council had budgets on their mind during their regular meeting last Tuesday. They moved to go with a cheaper option on insurance for city employees and tabled a fair bidding ordinance that would have encouraged the city to pay the prevailing wage for any contract work done in the city with city funds.

Council started the meeting with a presentation by Curtis Owens of Owens Insurance on the city's options for employee health insurance.

Owens explained that he was offering council a few options, including keeping their current coverage for city employees at a seven percent rate increase, or a second option that increased their deductible from $1000 to $2000, but kept their maximum out-of-pocket cost the same.

Owens explained he came up with package options that he felt "had the least impact on current coverage."

Mayor Jerry Callihan, who doesn't have a vote on council issues, encouraged council to leave coverage as it was. Callihan noted the city has "always provided (city employees) insurance," with all coverage paid by the city, because, "they don't make that much." Callihan explained that it was an incentive to keep employees working for the city instead of seeking more lucrative employment elsewhere.

However, councilman Justin Dixon worried about rising costs for the city, and noted that the second option would save the city around $26,000 per year compared to what they were paying for their current plan. He noted that it was uncommon for employers to cover the full cost of insurance and said that city employees were "eventually going to have to pay something."

Following discussion, councilman Allen Stapleton made a motion to go with option one, which would retain the current coverage with the seven percent increase covered by the city, but that motion died for lack of a second.

When Dixon made a motion to go with option two, which raised the decductible by $1,000 his motion was seconded by councilman Chris Bledsoe. That motion passed, with Dixon, Bledsoe and councilwoman Mary Collins voting aye on the motion, Stapleton voting nay and councilwoman Shannon Shutte abstaining. Councilman Wayne Russel was absent for the vote.

Finances were again on the minds of council as a bidding ordinance was introduced to the council. In addition to measures requiring proper certification and training for any contractors bidding on city projects, the ordinance included a provision requiring council to pay the prevailing wage.

The purpose of the bidding ordinance, according to those introducing it, was to encourage more locals to bid on projects and to guarantee that those working on projects had the proper background and certification.

Dixon, however, was critical of the ordinance as currently written. "I don't see how (the city) can afford it," Dixon said of the requirement to pay the prevailing wage.

Council discussed options for amending the ordinance with city attorney Derrick Willis before Shutte made a motion to table the ordinance for further discussion at a future date. Dixon, Stapleton and Collins voted "no" on tabling the discussion, however. Dixon then made a motion to dismiss the ordinance, but votes were again split, with Dixon and Collins voting aye, and Stapleton, Bledsoe and Shutte voting nay. Stapleton then made a motion to review and reconsider the ordinance at a later date, seconded by Shutte, with all present council members voting aye.

In other action the council passed their new roadblock ordinance on a second reading. That ordinance sets a time frame for roadblock charity collections, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. as well as restricting minors from directly participating in the charity collection events. While minors may stand on the sidewalk with signs, they are not allowed to stand in the street and collect money.

They also entered into the first reading of an annexation ordinance that will bring the John Clark Oil property on Rt. 60 into the city of Olive Hill via corridor annexation, without annexing the surrounding community of Pleasant Valley.

Council also accepted various department reports and a true-up report from American Electric Power.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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