The city of Naples will once again look into whether there are any benefits in instituting a ban on hiring smokers.
Naples City Council on Wednesday asked city staff to look into whether a hiring ban would have an effect on the city’s health plan.
“With regard to smoking, it’s similar to alcoholism,” said Councilman Sam Saad. “Why are we going to subsidize a dangerous lifestyle on the backs of citizens.”
Council looked into a similar request last year, but Lori Parsons, the city’s risk manager, said she never received direction about whether to move forward with the ban.
Parsons said last year a ban could reduce health care costs in the longer term, increase productivity and decrease absenteeism
Councilman Gary Price said he would not support a ban, but would support an incentive-based approach to health care.
“I would like to take a different approach in terms of the health and lifestyle of our employees and make it incentive based,” Price said. “You provide an incentive for people who do things and make changes, and hopefully our employees are healthier.”
The discussion about banning smokers came during an annual update on the city’s employee benefit program.
While cost saving strategies put in place in recent years have worked, Parsons said the city needs to continue looking for ways to cut costs.
“Assuming the same employee participation in each plan next year and the current premium contribution ration between the city and the employees, the additional cost to the city will be approximately $853,242,” Parsons wrote in a memo to council.
Parsons said the city may need to look at raising employee premiums in order to maintain the current benefit level.
The city is also evaluating other benefits like eliminating the city’s point of service health plan and increasing deductibles.
Any changes to the health plan will likely be discussed later this summer when the city finalizes its budget.
In other council action:
■ Naples City Council today voted 4-2 to allow dogs at restaurants with outdoor dining.
Councilwoman Teresa Heitmann was absent, while Councilwoman Dee Sulick and Councilman Gary Price cast the dissenting votes.
The ordinance creates an exemption to state law that forbids pets from entering a restaurant and will allow dogs in the outdoor dining areas that have received a permit.
City Council set the cost of a permit at $100 for the initial application and $50 for annual renewals. The fee will be used to offset the costs of administering the permitting process.
■ Naples City Council approved a budget amendment that will allow city officials to purchase more oil spill containment supplies.
The amendment will take $17,700 out of the city’s contingency fund for clean up supplies. The money will be transferred from the contingency fund to the fire department’s operating fund.
■ Mayor Bill Barnett presented Naples High School softball coach Robert Iamurri with a key to the city.
Iamurri was named the national softball coach of the year by the National High School Coaches Association earlier this month.