Aldermen still trying to find solutions to city’s insurance issues

City Council 09112023

Alderman Mike Farha, R-4, right, asks if anybody at Monday night's Quincy City Council meeting checked the background of Coalition Health's Jim Baxter. At left is Quincy Mayor Mike Troup. At center is Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn. | Photo courtesy of City of Quincy Facebook livestream

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council tabled a resolution during Monday’s meeting to buy secondary insurance from American Public Life for the last half of 2023. Aldermen requested more information from Quincy Mayor Mike Troup about the cost of the insurance before voting on it.

However, several aldermen made it clear they no longer want to continue to do business with Jim Baxter and Coalition Health.

“I would like some cost factors given to the council before we move forward on the insurance part of it,” Alderman Jeff Bergman, R-2, said. “As far as cutting our ties with Mr. Baxter, I would like to see that happen going down the road. But we need to get our ducks in a row on the city first to see what we can do.”

Moments earlier, aldermen heard the resolution to buy the six-month policy from APL. Mike Farha, R-4, quickly offered a substitute motion to immediately sever all relationships with Baxter and Coalition Health, and Greg Fletcher, R-1, seconded it.

When Troup asked what the city should do to replace that policy, Farha replied, “It’s time to end this relationship. In the intervening time period, our own employee (Human Resources Director Jennifer Winking), who is an attorney, can pick up the slack. (Comptroller) Sheri (Ray) can pick up the slack. If we can’t do it ourselves, then we aren’t set up right. We have to handle some of this ourselves.”

Troup said Coalition Health monitors three health insurance plans for the city, and each has a different deductible.

“All of that information is housed within Coalition,” Troup said. “We don’t have that information available in HR or in accounting. I would like to see this alternative proposal rejected until we can find an alternative service provider. I think (Farha’s) resolution is premature to make the decision to pull Coalition out of this.”

Baxter told aldermen at last Wednesday’s Meeting of the Whole that he instructed American Public Life, based out of Flowood, Miss., to cancel the city’s secondary insurance policy on Aug. 3. (City employees still have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois for primary insurance.) After that meeting, Troup said he would put a resolution on Monday’s agenda allowing the city to keep $677,000 already returned by APL and buy its own secondary insurance policy with APL.

“We don’t need Jim Baxter to purchase reinsurance,” Farha said. “All I’m saying is we’re giving him notice he’s done. We have the right. I’ve read the agreement. We can do it. Now, if he wants to take us to court, so what? Get in line. Let’s not confuse this issue. Our employees are suffering, and the community as a whole pays for this. It’s time to move on from Jim Baxter.”

Troup asked for patience from the aldermen.

“Let’s have Jennifer make the calls to the right people so we know what Plan B is instead of just abruptly ending it without having a Plan B,” he said. “You think we’ve had problems with employees up ‘til now? Voting on this today and having no Plan B and nobody to help us, I don’t think that’s the right step.”

Troup admitted after the meeting that getting information from Coalition about the city’s insurance plan “should be relatively easy.” However, Baxter has yet to provide it. He said he recently has talked with APL, and City Treasurer Linda Moore has reached out to Baxter.

“We’ve also got back some information that we’re trying to make heads or tails of, and we ended up with more questions,” Troup said. “We don’t have it all tied together.”

Fletcher said he believes Baxter has all the information the city needs on a spreadsheet.

“That should be the easiest thing on God’s green earth to give to us,” he said. “I don’t understand this. And I’m very much of the notion that as soon as we can get through this mess, (Baxter) needs to go away.”

The mayor said he understands people are frustrated. 

“They’re saying, ‘Forget Coalition. Let’s move on,’” he said. “That’s what the council wants to do. That’s fine. But we’ve got to have a Plan B. Who’s going to take over that workload? Jennifer is swamped with trying to get proposals (for insurance for next year) evaluated and a recommendation that would be effective Jan. 1, which would have an open enrollment on Nov. 1, which we need to give 60 days’ notice to the unions. Her plate’s pretty full.”

Two resolutions on Monday’s agenda that were tabled last week were “laid on the table” indefinitely. When a motion is “laid on the table,” it is set aside until the City Council can give it the attention it deserves.

One resolution called for a financial review to be conducted on the funds transferred by the city of Quincy to Coalition. It also asked for Troup to enter into a professional services agreement with an Illinois CPA firm to conduct the financial review. 

The second resolution called for the City Council to direct the IT department to provide emails between Troup and Baxter from Jan. 1, 2022, to Aug. 31, 2023. The emails were to be reviewed by Farha in the presence of city attorneys, Director of Administrative Services Jeff Mays, and IT Director Corey Dean. 

Farha said after the meeting he moved to lay the resolutions on the table because “we need to get rid of (Baxter) first, and I think my reasons are evident.”

Troup said after the meeting he’s having a difficult time finding qualified financial people willing to do a review — and do it quickly.

“I have two of them that I have confidence that could do it,” the mayor said. “But both of them are telling me we’re at least two months out. Well, I don’t know that (the City Council) is going to like hearing, ‘We’re out two months.’ I’ll let you share that with them on your website.”

In other action, aldermen:

  • Allowed VFW Post 5129 to conduct a raffle from Sept. 12, 2023 through Sept. 11, 2024. 
  • Approved a special event application from the Quincy Art Center to hold “ArtFest” with live music on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 1-4 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Quincy Art Center and Lorenzo Bull Park, 1515 Jersey. 
  • Approved a special event application from Greg Wellman of the Quincy Public Schools to hold the annual Quincy High School homecoming parade on Thursday, Sept. 28. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. at 14th and Maine and will proceed east to Quincy High School, 33rd and Maine.
  • Approved a special event application from Tieraney Craig, owner of Quincy Brewing Company, 110 N. Sixth, to hold an artisan-style “Maker’s Market” from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23.
  • Approved a special event application from the Tri-State Diversity Coalition to hold Pride in the Park from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17 in Clat Adams Park. 
  • Approved a revocable permit application for encroachment of city right-of-way by Father Tom Meyer on behalf of Blessed Sacrament Church and School, 1115 S. Seventh, to close the east-west alley from Seventh to Eighth, Adams to Monroe, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on days when school is in session.
  • Approved a quote from the University of Missouri-Columbia Fire and Rescue Training Institute for $19,000 for “hot burn” training.
  • Approved the execution of an agreement with Mast ATM Company for ATM services at the Quincy Regional Airport.
  • Gave the Quincy Police Department authority to pay $22,302 for tuition for three officers who attended the basic law enforcement training academy at the Police Training Institute in Champaign and $13,342.08 for tuition for two officers who attended the basic law enforcement training academy at the Sauk Valley Community College Law Enforcement Training Center in Dixon. 
  • Approved buying three 2023 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles from Sutton Ford in Mattison for $127,386.99. 
  • Approved paying Federal Signal in University Park $42,324.99 to upfit three 2023 Ford Explorer Police Interceptors with emergency equipment and prison transport safety equipment.
  • Amended the city’s traffic code to allow for a four-way stop sign to be installed at Fifth and Jackson.
  • Learned the city did not spray for mosquitoes this summer. Public Works Director Jeffrey Conte said the process isn’t very effective. “The only time really it’s warranted is when you have flooding and you get these mosquitoes that are hatching from the floodwaters,” he said. “We were kind of taking a wait-and-see approach and hoping we wouldn’t get many complaints. We didn’t until the last couple of weeks.”

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