The Brownfield City Hall Council Chambers was full again Thursday morning Sept. 2, 2021 with city employees hoping to hear the fate of their benefits. During the last meeting on Thursday August 19, 2021 there were several city employees who showed up to the meeting with 10 of them addressing the council about not taking away the dependents health insurance. The City of Brownfield pays 100% of health insurance coverage for both the employee and family, whether they are a spouse or children. According to Brownfield City Manager Jeff Davis the total cost for the employees and dependents is around $1.6 million a year. The dependent portion is around $900K.
During yearly budget meeting the past few years the Council has contemplated to reduce or do away with the dependents portion of the health insurance, plus the Council looked outside of Texas Municipal League (TML), which carries the employees health insurance policies, to seek perhaps a better premium. After much investigation for other insurance companies, TML was the same cost or less than other health insurance policies with the same benefits.
Thursday morning the council was approached again by two city employees about the possibility of reducing or completely taking the dependents portion out. On the agenda, item 17 the Council was to hear an update from TML intergovernmental employee benefits pool regarding the city’s health insurance program in which they did. During the comment at the beginning of the meeting and prior to item 17, Brownfield Fire & Rescue Captain Brit Shaw addressed the council. Shaw comments were asking the council to not take away the dependent care.
“We are the citizens of this community as well. These employees work hard for this community keeping the electricity and water on, streets maintained, protecting the community even if it puts our own lives at risk.” said Shaw and she went to say, “If insurance for our families are taken, this would be a huge slap in the face for your employees and families.”
Another issue Shaw brought up during her comments to the Council is that there is a rumor of the city only paying 35% of the cost and the employee paying the other 65% of the cost. During item 17, Councilman Michael Tackitt asked the TML representative Joe Sanchez, “Was anything ever presented about a 65/35 plan that I’m hearing about from our employees?” Sanchez replied, “That is the first of this.” and he went on to say again, “It may be a contribution issue, but I’ve never heard of that.” Councilman Tackitt then said, “Me either.” Later on in the conversation with the Council, Mayor Tom Hesse also expressed never hearing the 65/35 plan saying, “I’m not too sure where they came up with that 65/35 plan… thats the first I’d heard about it.” Davis chimed into the conversation stating, “Now the employee contribution or city contribution is what they are talking about the 65/35 and I had no idea where that came from.”
Mayor Hesse asked the Council if there was a motion to be made for item 17. Councilman Eric Horton made the motion, “I make the motion to maintain the dependent care 100%.” and Councilman Tackitt would seconded the motion and all Council member voting yes to the measure.
After the employees addressed the Council they moved item 2 which was to approve the minutes from the Aug. 19, 2021 meeting. Then the Council went to item 3 to hold a public hearing on the 2021-2022 budget. However the item was tabled due to lack of information about the hearing. Davis said, “This must be published in the newspaper… local newspaper… general circulation. We had sent the email to the newspaper, but it did not get published in the newspaper.” The council decided to have the public hearing on the budget during the next meeting.
Also the Council heard from a few citizens that live in the southeast side of town. According to those who spoke there is residence in the 1100 block of South Howell who continues to operate a business out of the residence which is against city ordinance. The major complaint from the other residents in the neighborhood was the large inflatable bounce style houses and slides that were being cleaned off by a pressure washer at night. Plus to add to the complaints, the size of the bounce houses would take the resident’s whole yard and inflate up to between two and three stories high. The complaints also included where the resident would park their trailers next to the curb on a curve and it would obstruct visibility.
Davis said the police, code enforcement, city inspector, and himself have been to the residence in question and has given till Sept. 24, 2021 for the residents to comply.
The Council also went into executive session to discuss item 13, which is to consider to amend the city zoning ordance on carports in required yards. The Council came out of executive session and there was no action taken on this item.
The meeting was adjourned. All eight council memebers were in attendance. The next council meeting is slated for Sept. 16, 2021 at 7:30 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.