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The California Board of Aldermen met Monday night, electing to stay the course when it comes to insurance coverage for city employees.

The group was presented with options for the city's health, dental, vision and life insurance coverage as renewals approach. Under the city's current plan, a renewal would see a 19.43 percent increase in cost to the city's yearly premium, bringing the cost from $506,296.56 to $604,665.48.

Despite the steep increase, the council decided it was in the city's best interest to stick with the plan. Opting out would mean the city could not receive the same package again in the future, and the alternative plans proposed would have represented a larger percentage decrease in coverage for city employees. Thus, the group voted to stick with the city's current insurance plan.

"(Whether) we're taking (from) overlay projects, we're taking from buying a truck, that money's got to come from somewhere, or we have to change the way we're doing business," California Mayor Norris Gerhart said. "But I don't think we take it from our employees."

Gerhart also informed the council the city was currently a bit short-staffed in a number of departments due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group approved a pair of ordinances, both related to closing traffic for parade routes in the coming weeks and months. One of these is the lighted tractor parade being hosted by the Oak Street Business District later this week, and the other is the California Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Christmas parade set for next month.

In departmental business, the council approved the purchase of a new sluice gate system for the wastewater treatment plant's aeration basin project at a preliminary cost of $20,590; the figure wasn't previously in the budget, as irreparable corrosion was only just recently discovered on the existing sluice gate. The wastewater department's clarifier project is also set to proceed soon, with bid opening taking place later this month on Nov. 19.

The California Police Department saw one officer resign last month, though a new employee came in for their first day yesterday after successfully passing physical evaluations, bringing the number of empty positions in the CPD to just one.

The California Fire Department has a new ladder truck in its sights, as California is first on the list to purchase a 2006 model from Columbia's fire department for $150,000 in the next two months. New ladder trucks can cost upwards of $900,000. The council voted to approved funds for the purchase when the truck becomes available.

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