City gets new agent

Friday, March 2, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Lewisburg has changed insurance agents from a man in Hohenwald to one at an agency on Nashville Highway, a move that's not changed the cost of the premium, but raised discussion during the recent council meeting about competitive bidding.

About "$862,000 has been going out of the city..." Councilman Robin Minor said as he raised the issue of employee health insurance provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield, the same underwriter that is now being used by Bill Harris, an agent at Collins & Miller Insurance, 1103 Nashville Highway.

He succeeds Rick Stevens Insurance Agency at Hohenwald, who, like Harris, explained that while the premium is $862,000, much of that goes to BSBC and a comparatively small amount goes to the agency.

Still, "It's a matter of principle, not favoritism," Minor said about the city patronizing businesses in Lewisburg. "The difference is the agent. The current agent has done a good job."

Councilman Ronald McRady supported the practice of shopping at home to support the local economy.

"But I have a problem with circumventing the bid process," said McRady, a former state employee.

Minor would agree "99 percent of the time," the retired county schoolteacher said.

"But this time the price is the same," Minor countered.

Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. asked if bids had been called.

Harris replied that Collins & Miller had asked "several times" for the opportunity to offer a bid.

Responding to a comment from City Attorney Steve Broadway about the nature of the insurance contract, Stevens said, "You can change agents at any time."

Stevens recommended against calling for bids now because that would change the ending date of the contract and Mayor Barbara Woods pointed out that is would affect employees' deductibles.

Ultimately, the councilmen voted 4-1 to change agents with McRady voting no.

It seems clear that when the insurance contract expires, the city will call for bids.