NEW FRANKLIN  Renewal of the self insurance health care plan for the city of New Franklin was approved by New Franklin City Council on Sept. 20, and it includes a 12.75 percent increase in the annual premium paid.

The renewal came in the form of agreements with J.P. Farley, of Westlake, the third party administrator; Excess Reinsurance as the stop loss carrier, and Cigna Health Network for the city’s self insurance plan. The city provides its full-time employee, fiance and law director and elected officials with medical benefits through the self insurance plan. City employees pay a deductible through a PPO. Council members, the finance Director and the law director pay a premium in addition to a deductible.

Becky Randling, a representative of J.P. Farley, addressed council with a summary and explained that the city’s self insurance plan is serving the city well, and she has requested bids from 12 other insurance carriers to learn if it can find a lower premium. She will report back to council on any recommendations.

"There was discussion regarding the possibility of moving to a fully insured plan, however, there are many drawbacks to that kind of change," said Finance Director Susan Cooke. "Fully insured plans can not match our current benefits - there would be higher deductables  and co-pays. Any transition would also require a substantial carry-over in the Self Insurance Fund in order to pay the current premiums from the fully insured carrier as well as any run-out costs from the self-insurance plan. Our self-insurance plan has worked well for us over the years, but it does require everyone's cooperation to keep costs down and to make changes that would benefit the plan."

An example of past net medical and pharmacy costs for the city - after claim costs, fixed costs, prescription rebates, and stop loss reimbursements - for the period of Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015, was $665,279. And minus the same costs, the net medical costs for the city for Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016, was $795.750.

The city has had a self insurance plan since 1996 and JP Farley has been the third party administrator since 2005. The plan is reviewed annually.

In February, Ken Jones, representing the Leading Edge, offered a presentation comparing the employee health plan to other public entities. The city hired Leading Edge to prepare the report at a cost of $5,000, according to New Franklin Mayor Al Bollas. As of December 2016, the city’s plan covers 57 employees and 97 dependents for a total of 154 members.

In other business:

- Bollas reported the State Route 93 widening project in nearly complete with the addition of a sidewalk on the east of the road and a planned addition of a traffic light at Renninger Road and SR 93.

"Driveway entrances to all businesses and homes look good, " he said.

- He reported the resurfacing of Center Road is underway and infrastructure at the intersection is being improved.

- Council was addressed by a representative of the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, Brenda Fargo, who is manager of the gas program. She informed officials that Summit County has joined NOPEC and, as a result, the city of New Franklin is part of the Summit County gas aggregation. NOPEC is the largest non-profit aggregator of natural gas and electric in Ohio.

She announced that residents of the city will receive a postcard from NOPEC explaining that if they wish to join and experience the savings benefits that 300,000 customers already enjoy, they do not have to respond.  For any questions on the transition, residents can call 1-855-867-3201.