City Council Discusses Contract With Consultant Firm

Although resolutions regularly see unanimous approval at City Council meetings, unresolved questions resulted in a dissenting vote Monday night.

The resolution in question, which passed by a measure of eight to one, authorized Mayor Sam Teresi to enter into an agreement with Veracity Benefits to provide brokerage consulting and employee benefit services at a cost of $20,000 for the period from June 1, 2013, to May 31, 2014.

“We awarded the contract as it was written to a group called Premier, out of Buffalo, which is what we’d voted on,” said Kim Ecklund, R-At Large. “I had some questions regarding paying $20,000 to another company to monitor that and our other insurance when it was also on the proposal. I had some open questions that I didn’t get resolved tonight, so I wasn’t comfortable supporting something that I didn’t have all of the answers for. If the bids were equal, it should have all stayed with one vendor in my opinion.”

At last week’s City Council meeting, City Comptroller Joe Bellitto spoke about how Veracity has been working with the city in order to negotiate the renewal of a contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield, which administers the city’s self-insure prescription drug program.

“They’ve been doing a nice job trying to negotiate the renewal of the contract,” said Bellitto. “Our contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield is divided into two sections – medical and prescription administration. The numbers are firm, there is absolutely no increase compared to where we are currently.”

According to Bellitto, the seven-month contract will allow the city to keep it’s current rates and allow the terms of the contract to expire on Dec. 31. At some point before the expiration of the contract, the city will likely begin looking at bids for companies to provide the services that are needed.

Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2, believes that by continuing to involve Veracity with the city’s affairs, there will be an increase in both efficiency and cost savings.

“Veracity won the bid last time, but this time Premier came in cheaper and we went with the less expensive,” said Dolce. “We did keep Veracity, though. I know that councilwoman Ecklund voted against that because she had some questions, but we all had some questions. I talked to City Comptroller Bellitto earlier today, and he did answer those questions. I felt comfortable with that. Veracity is a local company, they’ve done our services before, and there are a lot of things that they’re working on right now with the city, so this is more of an efficiency thing to have a local company right here able to take care of some services besides stop-loss. That’s what they’re working on. I felt very comfortable, as most of the other council members did, with splitting that one up and giving Veracity some of those services.