By Jackie Stone

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - The Harker Heights City Council is posed to take action tonight to lessen an insurance premium hike for city employees.

The council will convene a second meeting during its regular meeting to authorize an employee benefits trust.

Assistant City Manager Patty Burson said the trust is necessary in the city's negotiations with its health care providers to secure a smaller increase in insurance rates for health, dental and vision coverage.

"It is a method that we can use basically to save us 1.75 percent off of the premium tax for the health insurance plan," she said.

Burson said city employees were facing a 23 percent increase in costs. With the trust in place, employees will still see an increase, but the basic increase for employee-only coverage would be 5 percent.

The city will see a savings of about $15,000 a year, Burson said.

"The city's objective at any point is to get our employees - and the city - the lowest possible rate we can pay," she said. "It's all part of negotiating and getting the rates as low as we can."

The council must convene a special meeting on the trust, elect officers and take other action on awarding insurance contracts before the council can reconvene and approve the trust.

Council will also discuss a request for alcohol services and construction of a "permanent performance stage" for the Central Texas Food & Wine Festival, and meet in closed session about property.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in council chambers, 305 Millers Crossing in Harker Heights.

Contact Jackie Stone at or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcityeditor.

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