Friday, March 1, 2013

3 cities drop out of self-insurance pool

Penalties to be discussed March 27 in Boise


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

A self-insurance pool formed by 39 Idaho cities last March to keep insurance costs down is now losing members, despite the risk of paying penalties that match the cost of monthly premiums over the past year.

 Three cities that joined the Idaho Independent Intergovernmental Authority Trust insurance pool last year are no longer paying premiums for city staff health insurance coverage. Rigby, Shoshone and Jerome have dropped out of the pool and taken other insurance coverage. They have also been invoiced for penalties for early withdrawal, an amount equal to a total of monthly premiums for the amount of time the cities have been in the pool.

“They have 90 days to pay the penalty,” said Lisa Enourato, board secretary of Triple I-A.

The city of Hailey signed a letter last month, along with five other participating towns, seeking to leave the pool without paying the penalty. Hailey continues to pay premiums for coverage within the pool, but has also arranged a backup private market plan.

“No decision has been made to withdraw from the pool yet,” Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson said.

Triple I-A was modeled after a similar pool that Ketchum City Administrator Gary Marks helped launch in Montana in 2004, before moving to Ketchum. 

Marks said last week that the Montana pool has saved $9 million in reserves since then. The Idaho pool went live March 1, 2012, but was beset by very high claims costs, which led to unexpectedly high premiums for participating towns.

The next meeting of the Triple I-A board will take place in Boise on March 27.

“We hope there will be a decision made as to whether Hailey will be allowed to withdraw but pay substantially less penalty that agreed to in the contract,” Williamson said.

Marks, who is chair of the Triple I-A board, said matters of withdrawals will be discussed at the next meeting. 

“Because these matters deal with potential litigation, they will be discussed in executive session,” he said. 

In other Hailey news:

  • Representing the city, attorney Randal French has initiated an appeal in federal district court in Boise of a federal bankruptcy court ruling that prohibits the city from collecting about $2.5 million in annexation fees from Old Cutters Inc. Judge Edward Lodge will preside in the case. Williamson said no date has been set for an appellate argument.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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