Ishpeming council exempts employees from hard cap

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council unanimously approved a motion to exempt the city’s employees from the health insurance hard cap and 80/20 premium cost-sharing requirements created for public entities in a state law passed in 2011.

Michigan’s Public Act 152 states that city and a few other units of government that have health insurance plans are supposed to split the costs 80/20 – the city paying no more than 80 and the employees paying 20 percent of the premiums – unless the city passes, by a supermajority, an opt-out (motion)…” City Manager Mark Slown explained to the council.

The opt-out not only ensured that the city honored its contract with union employees, but will also protect its employees from burdensome costs, Slown said.

“We would find our employees in a really tough way, because 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums is going to be a big burden on their relatively modest salaries,” he said. “So I encourage you to vote your conscience, of course, but to vote for an opt-out in this provision.”

In other action, the council granted an easement to a property owner on Malton Road and will work to prepare similar easements for a couple other property owners along Malton. Slown said when the road was moved 120 feet west during construction, “it created several places where driveways no longer connected with the road.” The easements will ensure that those property owners have legal access to their properties as the city moves forward with the parceling and eventual development of the Hematites Heights subdivision in that area.

Additionally, the council approved the payment of an invoice to Ishpeming contractor A. Lindberg & Sons for its work doing emergency repairs on sections of water main beneath Canda Street and part of Main Street that burst during last winter’s deep freeze. The council had previously approved the work on a time and materials basis, and OK’d the payment of the $222,370 bill for those services.

Also to Lindberg, the council approved a fourth and final change order for the company’s contracted work on the storm sewer portion of the Partridge Creek project. The $13,189 increase – which paid for boulders and trees placed in the open channel area just west of Lakeshore Drive, as well as updated material quantities – still brings the roughly $3.56 million contract almost $20,000 below the original bid price, at a final cost of about $3.54 million. That contract is paid for by money from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.