Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the city’s expenditures appearing on upcoming Santa Monica City Council consent agendas. Consent agenda items are routinely passed by the City Council with little or no discussion from elected officials or the public. However, many of the items have been part of public discussion in the past.

CITY HALL — For the first time, City Hall employees will have to contribute significantly toward the cost of their health insurance premiums under a new “memorandum of understanding” the City Council is being asked to approve tonight.

The proposed agreement would establish the terms of healthcare coverage for all City Hall employees except for police officers, who have a separate health insurance deal.

Under the proposed arrangement, “each active eligible employee will contribute a pre-tax monthly flat dollar amount toward the medical premium for their city-provided medical insurance plan” beginning Jan. 1, a City Hall report stated.

City Hall currently pays 100 percent of premium costs for employees and their families.

The City Hall report did not state how much employees will be required to pay, but mentioned the agreement would save $1.1 million over its 18-month term. It also said a “reserve/trust account established in 2005 will be utilized to subsidize a portion of the employee’s contribution.”

Donna Peter, director of Human Resources, could not be reached for comment on the proposed deal.

City Councilman Kevin McKeown called the proposal a significant step.

“For the first time, city employees, including councilmembers, will be paying out of pocket part of the cost of health care. It’s a reflection of both rising premiums and an acknowledgment from the city work force that we all have to share in cutting the city budget,” he said.

The proposed memorandum of understanding is included on the council’s consent agenda for its meeting tonight and is expected to receive the panel’s approval.

Council talks ice skating

While the weather in the past couple of days has made it seem like summer has finally arrived, City Hall is looking toward winter with a proposal to again allow the Bayside District Corp. to use a vacant lot Downtown for its seasonal ice skating rink.

Set to open Nov. 5 on a portion of a City Hall-owned lot at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, the ice rink is expected to cost $32,500 in lost income that could be raised by opening the site to parking instead. (The lot is set to become available as a parking location sometime after the rink vacates the space by Feb. 28.)

The ice rink agreement, which runs through the 2013 holiday season, is included on the council’s consent agenda along with $742,000 in spending.

Trucks on order

The council is also expected to approve $515,000 for two new front load refuse packer vehicles to be used in resource recovery and recycling operations. The proposed contract is with Boerner Truck Center.

Cleaner water

Also on the agenda is $227,000 for chemicals the Water Resources Division says are necessary to decontaminate the groundwater at the Charnock Well Field Restoration Project.

The proposed contracts are with four companies: Olin Chlor Alkali Products, Basic Chemical Solutions, Brenntag and Univar.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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