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City approves change in insurance broker

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- On a 7-0 vote, the Walsenburg City Council approved to change health insurance to David Greenway out of Pueblo in an effort to hold down health coverage costs.
The move will involve a 4.9 percent increase with a double co-pay. The council made the move during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18 so that the coverage could take effect on Nov. 1. Without the change in brokers, the city would have faced a 29 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
The change will save the city around $26,000. Normally the city spends about 5.24 percent of the budget on insurance, and the city should see expenditures for 2012 at about the same level. The program they are considering will cost about $316,000 for the upcoming year compared to the $342,000 the city would have spent with the current carrier.
Walsenburg’s city council considered two ordinances Tuesday. Ordinance 1005 sets up an administrative fee for municipal utility billing where multiple billing statements are requested for a particular property served by municipal utilities. The 7-0 vote now allows the city to charge an extra two dollars to anyone who is responsible for payment of the municipal utility bill, water or gas and who requests that utility bills be sent to multiple individuals and addresses.
A landlord, for example, who is responsible for paying a water bill and is living in an address separate from the residence being rented, often asks that a copy of the water bill be sent to the rented address. That landlord will now receive a $2 charge for the duplication. The fee will be added on a monthly basis.
The second ordinance considered was Ordinance 1006. No action was taken during the Tuesday meeting, however the city council will take action during their first meeting in November. Ordinance 1006 will allow the city to transfer funds from various accounts in an effort to consolidate into the general fund the $2 million that had been scattered throughout the city’s many funds and at one point appeared to point to a shortfall.
The movement of the money began when transfers were made in 2008 and 2009 in an effort to stabilize the budget. Due to new accounting software and a former finance director’s lack of understanding about how the software worked, the $2 million was hidden because a particular entry was not made.
A recent audit of the city’s books for 2010 found the funds. The proper entries were entered into the accounting software, and the funds reappeared in the areas where they had been all along. Now the city needs to move those funds to the general fund, but several ordinances prohibit that move. Ordinance 1006 removes those restrictions and the funds will be transfered.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have verified that at no time was there any cryptosporidium in the swimming areas of the Wild Waters Park. The pool closed down one day in August so it could be superchlorinated after several people tested positive for the parasite. However tests of Wild Waters Park pools were negative.
Mayor Bruce Quintana highlighted the accomplishments the current city council has made during the past 20 months.
First he discussed securing from the state the ability to allow the city to lease land that it owns rather than to sell it. For example, this will allow the city to lease property it owns for gravel mining. The city also hired a new audit firm, the same firm that helped locate the missing $2 million. Normally a municipality uses the same auditors for about five years before changing them. The council also hired Dave Johnston as the city’s new finance director.
The city council also passed the weed ordinance putting teeth into the effort to clean up the city. The mayor cited an increase in community involvement as part of the reason that the $2 million hole in the city’s finances was found. He also stated the desire that such involvement continue while praising the city council in “opening the door” to community involvement.
He also refered to a project the city will be getting involved with in 2012 that will align the sewer lines in the city. The Youth Advisory Committee was also an accomplishment the city council oversaw during the past two years. The building of the skate park is the last of the list of nine accomplishments the mayor discussed as being undertaken by the city.