Aldermen agree on new insurance rate increase

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Sharon Wickens
Sharon Wickens on April 16, 2024. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Manchester’s municipal government employees will see a 10 percent rate increase in health insurance rate costs following a vote of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) on Tuesday night.

In a presentation two weeks ago, representatives from Anthem and USI recommended that the city raise rates by 16 percent, although Manchester City Finance Director Sharon Wickens was told that figure had come down to 13 percent after recalculations on stop-loss premium projections.

Ward 7 Alderman Anthony Sapienza recommended a seven percent increase, stating that he hoped to limit potential increases in rates borne by city employees. With the city paying 80 percent and employees paying 20 percent of health insurance costs, a seven percent increase would put the city’s Fiscal Year 2025 projected funding obligations at $1.4 million and the employee’s projected obligations at $350,000.

In his proposed initial city budget, Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais placed a $1.4 million amount in the line item for the city’s contribution to the costs.

Sapienza told the board that those figures were just projections and he had less concern with the city needing to find new revenue sources if costs went over those figures than additional costs for employees regardless of whether they went over or under those projections.

According to Wickens and Manchester City Human Resources Department Director Lisa Drabik, projections for the current fiscal year, ending June 30th, are on track to be $1.4 million over projections and the 2023 Fiscal Year ended $3 million over the projected budget.

“I do not feel comfortable with seven percent,” said Wickens. “We’ll come back with a problem next year, I believe that.”

A vote on Sapienza’s recommendation failed 8-6, with Sapienza joined by Pat Long (Ward 3), Christine Fajardo (Ward 4), James Burkush (Ward 9), Bill Barry (Ward 10) and Dan O’Neil (At-Large).

BMA Chair Joseph Kelly Levasseur then recommended the 10 percent increase, putting the city and employee’s projected increase amounts at $2,000,000 and $500,000 respectively.

This vote succeeded by a vote of 8-6, with all those voting for the seven percent increase voting against this motion, and vice versa.

According to Drabik, a vote needed to occur at this meeting, as the open enrollment period for city employees begins on May 1, with new plans set to begin on June 1.

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.