East Ridge City Council debates insurance coverage for retirees - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

East Ridge City Council debates insurance coverage for retirees

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There were some fireworks at East Ridge council on Thursday night and it all stems from a misunderstood resolution regarding insurance premiums.

The resolution was put in place to help save the city money, by getting 13 employees who had been working for the city for over 25 years to retire; giving the incentive of 100 percent coverage for medical insurance for the retiree and 50 percent coverage for the spouse.

However, the timing on how long the coverage would last wasn't made clear.

"With the confusion of this resolution, we have to reach some kind of happy medium," said Marc Gravitt, Councilman.

It was a debate over a time limit of how long health insurance would last for 13 retirees.

While nearly the entire council voted in favor of the resolution, passing it in January in an effort to save money, they now claim it is too vague by not giving a timeline.

"There was no discussion if the benefits cut off at 65 or if they were lifetime," said City Attorney, Hal North.

"I'm not a mind reader, unless you say 65, I mean unless you say life, how can I assume you mean life," said Gravitt.

The council looked to make an amendment, however, after the resolution was passed last month, 2 of the 13 employees turned in their retirement papers, thinking their coverage was lifelong.

The council debated for nearly an hour on what to do, before deciding to close the vague window of retirement to the other 11 employees who had not yet announced retirement.

"Closing the window to retirement immediately, allowing only the two who had tender their letters of retirement to be eligible for benefits. Specific details to remain undetermined," said Mayor Brent Lambert.

During the meeting, it was made known that the insurance carrier had not made an exemption to cover any employee for life. They said they should know something next week.

While the two newest retirees are covered, the councilmen did say a new window of opportunity could be reopened at a later time.

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