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Bellevue updated on pandemic expenses

By Rich Palzewic
Staff Writer

BELLEVUE – At its Aug. 26 virtual meeting, the Bellevue village board received an update expenses from the Wisconsin Routes to Recovery program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, which was created with federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, gives each municipality in the state a portion of funding, which can be withdrawn for eligible reimbursements during the duration of the program.

Bellevue was allocated $252,902.

“Staff intends to keep the board informed for the duration of the program,” said Benjamin Andrews, assistant to the administrator. “The first accepted claim was for $11,863.”

Eligible expenses must be submitted only once during any or all of the three reporting periods: July 1-15, Sept. 1-15 and Nov. 7-18.

“Our first claim (from July) leaves us with $241,038 remaining,” Andrews said. “The village has $114,864 in estimated planned expenditures for the remainder of the program. Those expenditures include scanning services, additional cleaning services and a digital video transmission system for the village board room, which would eliminate the acoustic echo and feedback for conferencing. If there are any initiatives you would like to see submitted for reimbursement, we’d like the input.”

Unbudgeted overtime, election-related expenses and personal protection equipment are other expected expenditures.

Health insurance search

The current employee health insurance plan for the village expires Sept. 30.

Bellevue must have a health insurance plan in place and employee enrollment completed by Oct. 1.

Renewal could result in a 2021 budget increase of $129,342, based on current enrollment and projected rates.

Previously, the village’s benefits consultant was directed to solicit quotes from other carriers.

“Two carriers declined to provide us coverage,” said Diane Wessel, administrator. “They came in with a 35 percent rate increase. Our last hope is for the third carrier we asked to provide us with a quote – we don’t know if they will. We are worried about this because we haven’t been able to tell staff what type of insurance plan they’ll have Oct. 1.”

Wessel said two options for the board are to choose a number they are comfortable going up to for costs or weigh the state plan.

“The state plan is about a 15 percent premium increase compared to what we currently have,” she said. “With the state plan, it would take effect Jan. 1, so we’d have to continue our current plan for three months at the increased rate.”

Several board members said they would be comfortable having a special meeting in the near future to make a decision.

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