By Hailey Persinger

Killeen Daily Herald

Scott & White Health Plan representative Lee Green found himself in the hot seat at Tuesday's Killeen City Council workshop when several council members went on the offensive for the health insurance of city workers.

A 27 percent jump in premiums has shaken some employees whose incomes just barely allow them to cover their families and still pay for day-to-day expenses. City workers' increase in use of the insurance prompted Scott & White to raise rates, Green said.

"Over the last 19 months we had experienced losses of about $1.6 (million), $1.7 million to the health plan, so we were not in the position to extend our current rates," he said.

His explanation did not settle the frustrations of some city council members, however.

While the council decided to carry out its plan to collect bids from other insurance companies while sticking with Scott & White for the time being, Councilwoman JoAnn Purser said she wanted Green to know the frustrations of the council and the city's employees.

The council approved a one-year renewal of the contract earlier this year but Purser said Scott & White failed to communicate with the city during the proposal process and made changes to the contract after council members believed they had reached a compromise with the company.

"The employees are upset and we're a little confused because of the lack of returned phone calls and the way that you returned the contract to us after we executed it for 12 months," she said.

Now that the city has gone out for bids, its next step is to play the waiting game and hope competing companies return with lower priced – and comparable – plans. That doesn't mean Scott & White can relax, though.

"You're telling us that you're willing to bid on it to compete for our business," said Councilman Juan Rivera. "When you come up here saying ... that you want to compete, you're willing to bring those premiums down."

While competition could drive down bids from other companies, Scott & White may not drop its bid. Green said the company still plans to submit its proposal in hopes that "when the dust settles that our bid will be the most competitive."

The council convened for its regular meeting following the workshop, in which members decided to throw out a proposal to pour $3.5 million of a $12 million bond into the First Baptist Church project.

City Manager Connie Green said taxpayers shouldn't have to fork over any money until the council can come up with a plan for the church it bought two years ago. The property has been up for sale for two weeks and Green said that without a solid plan, he could not justify using money the city does not have.

"I do not think it would be prudent for us to borrow $3.5 million on a property that is currently for sale," he said.

The council also did the following Tuesday:

Considered adopting a city ethics policy.

Reviewed debt payments and special revenue funds for the fiscal year 2010 budget.

Reached a preliminary consensus to post signs prohibiting drivers from using handheld cell phones while in a school zone.

Contact Hailey Persinger at or (254) 501-7568.

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