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City eyes options under Obamacare

DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Mayor Joe Cox (left) goes over details of the upcoming changes related to the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act with the board of aldermen Tuesday night while City Clerk Mike Jinks (right) listens in. The new healthcare law's impact on city workers' insurance will result in an increase in the 2013-2014 city budget, officials said.

DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Mayor Joe Cox (left) goes over details of the upcoming changes related to the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act with the board of aldermen Tuesday night while City Clerk Mike Jinks (right) listens in. The new healthcare law’s impact on city workers’ insurance will result in an increase in the 2013-2014 city budget, officials said.

A local resident presented a proposal Tuesday night for how money should be spent in the Homeseekers Paradise, while implementation of new federal healthcare laws are certain to affect city expenditures, according to a public hearing on Brookhaven’s proposed 2013-2014 budget.

At the hearing, city officials came one step closer to a finalized budget as they received the public’s input on budget expenditures for the year. Last week, officials met for a preliminary look at the budget, as compiled by City Clerk Mike Jinks.

Roy Smith, head of Community Action Group of Brookhaven Inc., was the sole member of the public to attend the meeting. Smith requested the board allocate funds for an activity center and swimming pool in East Brookhaven.

“Now is the time for a change in Brookhaven. The community needs a facility that will help kids develop social and critical thinking skills. Little League is not enough,” Smith said.

In other matters related to finalizing a budget, Sylvia King, a local insurance agent, presented the board with a number of potential city insurance provider options in connection with changes mandated by the Affordable Health Care Act (commonly called Obamacare), which will begin taking effect at the beginning of October.

Preliminary discussion by the board indicates the act may result in an increase of nearly $48,000 in city expenses.

“If you think this is bad, know that we went through 36 possible insurance options. Two out of the top three we selected would have cost the city over $150,000 in additional expenses,” said Mayor Joe Cox.

Due to the federal changes, King emphasized the need for city officials to educate their workforce on what they could expect when the changes take place.

In another matter taken up at the earlier budget work session, city officials repeated Tuesday night that they are not looking at any pay raises for city employees, including themselves, in the new budget.

Final revisions on the 2013-2014 budget should be complete by next week’s board of aldermen’s meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3. By law, Brookhaven officials have until Sept.15 to complete the budget, but this year they are running ahead of schedule according to Jinks.

“We are a little bit ahead. I am increasingly happy with what we have achieved,” said Jinks.

One final budget work session will be held Thursday at 6 p.m.