A Kansas City BBQ Society Sanctioned contest, streets and employee health insurance were on the agenda for Tuesday nights Chillicothe City Council meeting.

In a workshop, before the official meeting started council members spoke with representatives of Allgeier, Martin and Associates, an engineering consulting firm, about the possibility of developing a long-term street plan for the city.

Council members said long-term plans should include the addition of curbs and gutters, address drainage issues, among other issues.

Engineers said that there are steps leading up to a long-term plan including an inventory of the streets, the conditions of roadways, measuring traffic counts and loads and possible geothermal core sampling done of certain streets.

Engineers also recommended that city officials seek the public’s input on what they feel the needs are for the streets.

Allgeier, Martin and Associates representatives said it could take up to a year to develop a master plan and cost as much as $100,000.

In the city limits of Chillicothe there are 160 miles of streets maintained by the city, other areas like Washington Street, or U.S. Highway 65, are maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

As the workshop ended, City Administrator Darin Chappell told the council for the first time ever, the bowling alley was seeking financial assistance from the City.

Chappell told council members that it was reported to him that the bowling alley was unable to make payroll due to a large insurance payment and was seeking more than $9,000 from the city to cover the owed payroll amount. As the owner of the bowling alley, the City’s contract requires them to cover the expense. Chappell says they hope to re-coupe those funds in the future. City Auditor Hannah Fletcher said she would be issuing the payment on Wednesday.

By a vote of 5-0, the council approved the use and closing of Simpson Park for a Kansas City BBQ Society Sanctioned contest on June 26-27. The contest has been held in the park in the past, but due to scheduling issues with the organization is hasn’t bee held here since 2017. Reed Dupy told the council that Boy Scouts had already agreed to help with clean-up and plans are for the Knights of Columbus to sponsor the beer garden.

Chappell also led a lengthy discussion about health insurance premiums the city pays for its 75 full-time employees. Recently costs for the coverage went out to bid for 2020, and Chappell said he was shocked by the results.

“To maintain the current level of coverage offered to employees, using the same provider, our increase is going up 48 percent,” Chappell said. “We looked at other carriers and their bids came back at more than $100,000 more than our current costs.”

Chappell said the jump in price can be attributed to a large number of claims the city has had through their health insurance over the last year, which he estimated to be $800,000.

Insurance costs are rising for private businesses, and Chappell noted officials with Chillicothe Municipal Utilities (CMU) and the county have told him their costs are rising by at least 24 percent.

Chappell told the council he was looking at a variety of other plans, beyond the bids already received. “We are trying to come up with coverage that makes financial sense and still provides the best coverage for employees.”

The city pays 100 percent of a full-time employees premium cost for health insurance, half for dependents and a portion of the plan’s deductible.

The council accepted no bids for health insurance coverage. The current coverage runs out Jan. 1, 2020.