WILKES-BARRE – After years of being turned away, Robert Fountain caught the attention of council Thursday night when he said he could save the city $321,216 in health care costs.
Fountain, president of IDM Consulting Services of Wilkes-Barre, said it would not require changing carriers or amending either of the Geisinger or Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania plans. His company has worked with other municipalities, he said.
It's just an administrative change that our office would gladly do for the city, he said.
He did not go into too much detail during his five-minute time limit before council during its regularly scheduled meeting. He presented a copy of a non-compete agreement for council members to review in order to protect his work.
The city's liabilities would not increase, he explained. Employees would be required to furnish him an explanation of benefits issued by the health insurance companies for services provided.
If all employees realize that they can actually help the city to save over $300,000 and possibly save quite a few jobs, they wouldn't mind, I would hope they wouldn't mind sending a few forms each month as they get a claim or as they have services done at their local Blue Cross provider, Fountain said.
He offered to present additional information to council in the future, saying There is additional savings that can be realized from the balances of all the groups that are out there that the city does insure.
Council President Bill Barrett thanked Fountain and said he and other members of council would review the information.
Afterward Fountain took it as a good sign. He had been offering his services for nearly 10 years.
In the past they've never listened to me, Fountain said.
What's different now is the city is having financial problems.
Mayor Tom Leighton laid off 11 firefighters in December in an attempt to make up for an estimated $2 million revenue shortfall. He carried the cuts into this year, despite raising taxes by 25 mills, to 121.63 mills, in his $44.9 million budget. The hike was less than the 30 mills he first proposed in October, when he presented a $45.8 million budget to council.
Firefighters attended the 45-minute meeting but did not address council.
The resolutions on the agenda passed unanimously, 5-0, including a one-year contract for fuel oil with Petroleum Service Co. of Wilkes-Barre and a three-year, $42,000 contract with Orkin Pest Control Services.
The issue of who would sit on a special committee to review the towing contract with LAG Towing Inc. also drew comments. Frank Sorick, president of the Wilkes-Barre City Taxpayers Association, said the committee should be made up of other towers instead of council members and city officials.