Several Decorah residents spoke at Monday night's City Council meeting in opposition to the proposed 2010-2011 budget.
City officials say this year's property tax mill rate increase is due entirely to a whopping 53 percent increase in the cost of health insurance premiums for city employees. City Administrator Jerry Freund says Wellmark/Blue Cross/Blue Shield "whacked us." The new mill rate for 2010-2011 will be $12.54 per $1,000 of assessed valuation--an increase of 11 cents.
Decorah residents C.J. Lensing, Brian Cook and Smokey Doyle complained about the health insurance costs. "You're totally out of line with what you're paying," Cook told city council members. Lensing complained "You're taxing us out of business." Concluded Doyle, "It is time to start cutting."
City Council member Gary Rustad agreed that it's time for the city to look at higher deductibles on its health insurance policy. "Someone has to pay for (the increase) and, unfortunately, it's the taxpayers." Other city council members agreed they would look at raising health insurance deductibles when the policy renews.