Steamboat Springs The 9.6 percent increase in health insurance for RE-2 school district employees is nothing compared to the 88 percent increase in property insurance figured into the 2000/2001 budget.
"It's appalling," School Board member Millie Beall said.
According to district finance director Dale Mellor, the increase will amount to approximately $50,000 more than last year's property insurance bills.
The Steamboat Springs School District has been insured through Alpine Insurance Agency since the early 1980s, agency owner Mike Bird said.
"It's my understanding that we've been going to Bird for all this time because he has the best rates in town," Mellor said.
Before receiving the official 88 percent increased rates from Bird, Mellor was under the impression that the hikes would be more in the ball park of a 30 percent increase.
"Before I make any more comments, I need to talk to (Mike Bird)," he said. "I have no idea why the rates are so high."
"I really didn't have any idea just how high the increases would be," Bird explained. "I told Dale (Mellor) 30 percent just to demonstrate that the increase wouldn't be minor it wouldn't be in the area of a 5 or 10 percent increase. I pulled it out of the air.
It was not meant in any way to convey an official 30 percent increase."
Although Mellor wasn't sure why the rates increased so much since last year, he said some accidents on school property last year are part of the reason for the higher costs.
"There was a student who fell off a slide at Strawberry Park last year, another student who cut off his thumb in shop class," Mellor said.
As a rule, whatever the type of insurance, when premiums increase as drastically as 88 percent, it's because of highly unprofitable experiences from the standpoint of the insurance company, Bird explained.
Bird was not able to comment further on the specifics of what may have been "unprofitable experiences" due to his confidentiality obligation as an insurer.
"Rate increases have been very minimal until this year," Simms said.
School Board member Paul Fisher reminded the Board that there really isn't time to go out for bids on better rates for this year, because the 2000-2001 budget must be approved by Friday.
In spite of the property insurance hikes, which includes insurance for almost everything except automobile insurance, Bird said, and despite additional hikes in health insurance and a 30 percent increase (approximately $20,000) in natural gas costs, the Board unanimously adopted the budget at Monday night's School Board meeting.
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