by Don Ratzlaff

The Free Press

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil approved its new dog ordinance and renewed its employee health insurance plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield during its 20-minute regular meeting May 15.

“What we’ve got here is the culmination of many meetings where we talked about this,” City Admini­stra­tor Larry Paine said about the final draft.

“At our last meeting we basically announced that the ordinance that would be presented has all of the breed specific information removed.”

The previous ordinance had included a list of 13 suspect dog breeds. The new ordinance will base the behavior of each dog, regardless of breed.

“I think we ended up with a good ordinance that our police and enforcement can work with and the citizenry can get behind,” Paine said. “I would encourage all citizens that are dog owners in Hillsboro to get their licen­ses and vaccinations (for their dogs) and follow the new ordinance.”

The council voted to renew its health insurance plan with BCBS, but with some adjustments to “keep it affordable on the city side and helps on the employee side a little bit as well,” Paine said.

“The first change we see is that the co-insurance moves from an 80-20 down to a 70-30,” Paine said. “The out-of-pocket maximums don’t change, and that’s where the value of the co-insurance has its impact.”

Paine said the new policy will reduce office-care visits from $35 to $25 for a physician and from $70 to $50 for a specialist.

“Prescription co-pays don’t change, but these amounts are part of the out-of-pocket maximums that the employees tally toward that,” Paine said.

As part of arrangement, Paine asked the council to also renew the city contribution of $500 for each employee toward the market cafeteria plan as an added local benefit.

“It gives the employees a spark to be able to meet the co-pays and the higher expenses that come form the health insurance plan,” Paine said.

He said these kinds of benefit help to ensure that the city will attract and keep quality employees, referencing a municipal publication that stated the city of Newton was down to 11 city employees.

“As we think about these things, we have to be cognizant of the impact that decisions make on making the city a viable employment option for people,” Paine said.