A Metro Council Finance and Executive Committee meeting Wednesday provided a small preview of the city-parish’s 2012 budget forecast, including a possible increase in health-care premiums for city-parish employees.
Council members on Wednesday were briefed on health-care costs for the upcoming year and questioned city-parish staff about rollover funds in different departments.
City-parish employees may be asked to pay a 5 percent increase in premiums for their medical insurance in 2012, said Human Resources Director Annette Bookter.
The city-parish is also expected to pay an additional 5 percent for its contribution, amounting to about $3 million.
The city-parish is expected to pay about $58,250,000 for employee and retired employee insurance costs in 2012.
There will be no changes to co-pays or deductibles for 2012, and dental and vision plans will go unchanged.
Employees paid about $123 per month this year for medical insurance, and the increase next year will result in premiums that are about $129 per month.
For family coverage, an employee paid about $500 per month for a Health Maintenance Organization plan. The same plan in 2012 is expected to cost $525.
The full council is expected to vote on the health-care plan changes on Wednesday at its next full council meeting.
While considering an item that would allow the police chief to move forward with purchasing a 20-year-old building for an evidence room, some council members turned to questions about 2012’s budget.
Finance Director Marsha Hanlon said her office is currently projecting a 1-percent increase in revenue for the city-parish over last year.
“There could be a small increase in next year’s budget,” Hanlon said, adding that the additional funding would be used to offset increases in insurance and retirement costs.
This year, sales tax revenue has been higher than projected, but Hanlon said, other revenue sources are coming in lower than expected.
The proposed budget for this year, approved in December by the council, was $740.9 million.
The building proposed for the evidence room, on Evangeline Street, will cost an estimated $1.3 million, said Interim Public Works Director William Daniel.
Police Department officials have said they want to purchase the building with unused funds from capital expenses that roll over year-to-year.
The Police Department has a rollover fund balance of about $4 million, said City Parish Finance Director Marsha Hanlon.
She also said other city-parish departments and agencies may have rollover balances.
Some council members asked why — amid tightening budgets parishwide — would department fund balances get rolled over and not redirected back to the parish’s general fund.
“If you don’t roll them over, I can guarantee you it’s going to get spent,” Hanlon told the committee.
The rollover funds can only be used for capital projects, including buildings and vehicles, and not recurring operational expenses, Hanlon said.
She said the Police Department generally uses its rollover funds to replace officer vehicles.