Columbia Falls has seen sharp rise in health insurance costs

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | July 29, 2020 4:58 AM

The rising rates of health insurance are well documented throughout the country. Columbia Falls is not immune to them.

The city is proposing raising its permissive medical levy — the funds are used to pay the city’s portion of employee health insurance – about $20 for a home assessed at $200,000.

The increase in rates over the past 20 years is a stark one. In 2000, the city paid just under $40,000 for employee health insurance, or about $232 a month per employee.

Today, it pays about $289,000, or nearly $1,100 per month per employee.

The city council Monday night approved a public hearing on the matter as part of a larger public hearing on the city’s overall budget at 7 p.m. Aug. 3.

In other news:

• The city will also hold a public hearing on the resort tax at the Aug. 30 meeting. Voters approved the resort tax in June. It doesn’t go into effect until next October.

• The council approved a conditional use permit for a coffee stand at the former Melby’s Home Interior lot on U.S. Highway. The stand will have to have its own well and septic system, since its outside the city limits.

• The city pool will now be open Sundays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., city manager Susan Nicosia said.

• Council wore masks to the meeting and discussed coronavirus in general. There was a discussion on why police weren’t wearing masks on calls. The consensus was it wasn’t safe to go to calls if people couldn’t hear what police were saying. The department notes it is not the “mask” police, but it will respond to calls if someone is being disruptive.

Since the meeting, police have removed at least one person who was being disruptive at an event and refused to wear a mask.