The Board of Selectmen Wednesday morning unanimously approved hiring the Northeast division of Lockton Companies, LLC, as its new health insurance and risk management consultant.
The agreement is for a three -year term at a fixed annual cost of $55,000.
On Monday, the Board of Education also unanimously approved hiring Lockton, also for a three-year term, but at an annual rate of $45,000.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said the decision to change insurance consultants comes on the heels of "challenging problems" with the Board of Education's health-insurance fund over the last several months. School officials at one point thought there was a $2 million shortfall in its current budget because of several large insurance claims.
In the end, the school board's Health Insurance Fund Review Committee, an adhoc group formed to look into the matter, discovered that instead of a deficit, the board could possibly realize a $293,000 surplus by the end of the fiscal year June 30.
By town and school officials collaborating on hiring an insurance consultant, at least $30,000 will be saved, "if not more, if the Board of Ed went in its own direction," Marpe added.
He said he's "very impressed by the quality of services" offered by Lockton. "Part of the contract proposed includes a laundry list of services" sort of like a "Chinese menu," he said. He said the consultant firm will also help the town and school board work through the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.
Gary Conrad, the town's finance director, said the only added cost to the town will be if Lockton needs to hire an outside specialist.
He said a number of consultant firms were interviewed for the job, but Lockton came out on top and seemed to have the best services for the town and school board.
The selectmen received an email from Don Bergmann, a member of the Representative Town Meeting, asking if Lockton would be looking into self-insured versus fully insured and "everything in between."
Selectman Helen Garten said she hopes the new consultants have a copy of the McGladery report, an audit of the Board of Education's health insurance fund that was done when the board thought it was facing the shortfall. Conrad said the McGladery report would be sent to Lockton.
Selectman Avi Kaner said "the beauty" in the collaborative effort is not only "in the savings, but in sharing information" between the town and education officials.
"It will open up a dialogue where both sides can benefit," Kaner said.