Ocean View council discusses health insurance, budget

The Ocean View Town Council cut its monthly budget meeting short earlier this week, following the late March snowfall.

During the short meeting, Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood said that the town is dealing with a difficult situation, where the town’s budget must be approved by April 8, and but have yet to determine a budget line item for increase in employee health insurance premiums, given the rising cost of insurance.

“The fact that the State has a moratorium on municipalities being able to participate in the State’s insurance plan, operates very much to the detriment of Ocean View,” said Wood. “It has impacted us and our ability to do our job.”

Councilman Tom Sheeran said that he and Wood had polled the towns throughout the state regarding their insurance issues. Of the state’s 57 municipalities, 43 responded to the town’s inquiries.

Sheeran said 20 of those municipalities were enrolled in the state’s plan, while 23 were not. Of the 23, 16 were interested in joining the state’s plan, with one not being interested, and six who are unable to enroll due to the number of employees employed by the town.

Wood and Sheeran met last week with Sen. Gerald Hocker and state Rep. Ron Gray (R-38th) regarding the issue.

“They are in agreement with us that it should be opened to us,” said Sheeran.

Wood added that if the town were able to join the state’s insurance plan, there would be less of a financial impact on employees with families.

“Right now the state program is big enough that their family plan is a family. One kid, two kids, three kids — it doesn’t make a difference,” he said. “The issue we have with our current insurer and others we’ve look at is they focus on such things as, do you smoke, your age, and how many kids you have. The price goes up with the number of children and so on.”

Councilman Bob Lawless asked if the town would be able to break a contract if they were allowed to join the state’s insurance plan.

Town Manager Dianne Vogel said the town would be able to break the contract, without penalty.

Wood said he believed the moratorium that is currently restricting municipalities from joining the state’s plan is in conflict with the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

“We’re really going to have to wrestle with a hard issue,” said Lawless.

Council will hold another budget meeting on Monday, March 31, at 5 p.m. in town hall.

In other town news:

• The Ocean View Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the preliminary site plan for Silver Woods. The plan was approved with stipulations, including that the developer would make changes to the plan such as a dedication of the roads to the town should be shown or noted in the general notes and include makings for signs and dumpsters.

• The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the reduction of the required parking spots as approved by the commission in 2004 for Coastal Plaza located at 111 Atlantic Ave. The plaza currently has 46 spaces, and under the town’s old code, the property was required to have 50 spots.

Frank Miranda of Miranda and Hardt, who owns the property, told the commission that in his 12 years owning the property, averaging six days a week at the plaza, he is “keenly aware” of the parking situation.

“I’ve never had a tenant come to us and complain about parking,” he said. Adding that he has only seen the parking lot full two times, both during the off-season.

The commission granted the request, and only 46 spots are required for the plaza.

• The Ocean View Board of Adjustment Commission unanimously approved an application submitted by Terry and Joanne Titus, for a variance to permit an existing screen porch, to encroach 7.3 ft into the required side yard setback of 15 ft. The variance was granted with the understanding that a shed that also encroached into the setback.