City Council Hears Not Many Claims on Insurance, But Some Whoppers


Published on December 3 2013 9:46 pm
Last Updated on December 3 2013 9:46 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday heard that there weren't many claims on the City's workers compensation and liability insurance coverage, but the ones they received were whoppers.

Jeff Weis of Weis Insurance Agency said the City didn't have a "frequency problem", but a "severity problem" when it came to claims in 2012.  Weis said, as a result, the proposed renewals for coverage for 2014 represent an overall premium increase of $62,201, or almost 19%.  The increase was generated by two claims on one of the coverages and one claim on the other.

There's hope for the next year, though, as the City's Dan Bledsoe said 2013 has been a very good year as far as claims.  It was also noted that the City, even with the increase, will be paying less than they would have been with the previous carrier.  

A vote on the coverage should come at the next Council meeting.

The Council passed the tax levy for the fiscal year.  Commissioner Brian Milleville voted against the levy.

Council members approved a development agreement with Agracel and with Roy Schmidt Motors Holdings along with S&A Development for development of a Honda auto dealership on the City's west side.  Under the terms, the developers will purchase the development area and another tract of land roughly in the area where the Dixie Truckers Home stood just off the West Fayette Avenue interstate interchange.  Agracel would buy a parcel from the City for $450,000.  Construction would begin in April 2014 and would be completed by the end of 2014.  The developer would also construct street, water line and sewer line to serve the dealership.

If the project is completed, the City would pay the developers $1,125,000.  The City would also reimburse the developers the amount of property taxes generated by the improvments for a three-year period.  The City would also reimburse the developers for sales tax revenue generated by the dealership for an eight-year period at a total not to exceed $1,550,000.  

Roy Schmidt Motors operates a Mt. Vernon-based auto dealership that sells a variety of models of vehicles.

Council members released bonds held on a number of infrastructure projects that have now been completed.  The Council also approved Centenary United Methodist Church as the latest participant in the City's new Pick It Up, Effingham! litter abatement program, and approved a new 10-year agreement with Effingham County on maintaining an animal shelter facility in exchange for the County providing animal control services within the City.

Council members appeared favorable on a proposed purchase of Scrubby's Pub downtown by Colby Patterson and the issuance of a liquor license that would allow consumption on the premises and the purchase of package liquor.  A vote could come at the next Council meeting.  There was also consideration of providing $150,000 in assistance to Dial and Dial Properties, the company that is redeveloping the former Fedders property.  The agreement would stipulate that Dial and Dial would have 200,000 square feet of the developable area leased and that it would be leased for at least a two-year period.

The Council also discussed amending subdivision improvement standards.  The new proposal would relax some earlier provisions considered, but would require tougher street standards.  A vote is possible in the near future on the new standards.

In the Announcements and Commissioner Comments segment, Commissioner Matt Hirtzel commended the downtown celebration last Saturday, Commissioner Brian Milleville asked that the police and fire department lots be parked before work is done on the City Hall lot, Commissioner Alan Harris expressed appreciation for being allowed to participate in a fire training exercise, Commissioner Don Althoff shared good comments he'd received about the City's "Wonderland in Lights" display at Community Park, and Mayor Merv Gillenwater expressed pleasure at the growth of the "Pick It Up, Effingham!" program initiated by City Administrator Jim Arndt.

Arndt said contracts with City workers represented by the Teamsters and the International Association of Firefighters could be ready for a vote at the next Council meeting.  Economic Development Administrator Todd Hull said he hopes to discuss a new industrial project at the next meeting.  Fire Chief Joe Holomy asked residents to help with digging out fire hydrants by their property if they're buried when streets are being plowed.