Manchester city employees say health insurance cost may force them to leave

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MANCHESTER, MO (KPLR) – Manchester city employees and residents are upset over recent changes over what they say are leading to higher health insurance costs for families.

"I came to the conclusion that the people of your board is comprised of people who simply don't care about their employees" said Briiana Hancock.

At Monday's Board of Alderman meeting, many residents and city employees spoke out pleading with the Board to re-think what they're asking employees to pay to insure their families.

"I am heartbroken that they [city police officers] are now being attacked by the people they serve" said Briiana Hancock, whose husband works as a Manchester Police Officer.  "This is nothing short of an attack on their well-being and their families.  Shame on all of you" she said.

"I am letting the residents of the city of Manchester know just how the Board of Aldermen feel about their employees and their residents. They don't care" said Manchester resident Pat Fox, whose husband also works for the city.  "Because of the choices your Aldermen have made, employees are taking home less than $1,200 a month after paying a premium for insurance" Fox went on.

Employees say in September, they learned they would have to choose new health insurance plans, but they say their options were limited and too expensive.  Employees also say they contribution the city will pay for their insurance has gone from 50 percent, to about 25 percent.

"I am to a point now where you almost have to make a decision between a house payment and insurance" said long time Manchester Police Officer David Ebert.

"If I stay here I may not be able to live in the house that I chose to live in".

"If we want to have a great city that wants a bright future, we have to treat our employees like they are great employees" said Manchester resident Tracy Garrett.  "I am uncomfortable with the fact that we're asking them to pay 43 percent of their income in insurance? That makes me really uncomfortable" Garrett said.

"I chose to buy a house in Manchester because it’s a wonderful community" said Ebert.  "I shop here, my kids are being raised here and I’d love to stay. But I may have to move out and find a lower place I may have to sell a house and find another place to live which I would hate to do and that’s if can even afford to stay here" he said.

As the meeting ended, some Alderman- who didn't want to speak on camera- said they welcome the public's comments.

Board President, Marilyn Ottenad of Ward 2, refused to speak to Fox2 on camera, but when asked about how the city plans to move forward after hearing the grievances, she only said 'we will need to talk'.

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