August 2017

Trust Tips is a resource for members of the Trusts administered by the Florida League of Cities. Here you’ll find tips and other information from the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, Florida Municipal Investment Trust, Florida Municipal Loan Council and Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund


Click the hyperlinks above to contact an insurance or financial services representative directly.

  In this issue: 
  • The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust – Celebrating 40 years of service to Florida cities
  • Pharma Profits by Compounding Drugs, at the Expense of Insured and Taxpayers
  • Do You Talk With, Or At, Your Employees?
  • How to Recharge Your Wellness Program
  • Get a Jump Start on Reporting Retiree Health Benefits
  • The State of Legal Protections for LGBTQ Employees
  • Is Your City Overpaying for Telecommunication Services?
  • Links for Further Reading
The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust - Celebrating 40 years of service to Florida cities

In the tough insurance market of the late 1970s, Florida cities were having trouble securing workers’ compensation insurance. Insurers could be very selective; coverage was limited and expensive. Many cities couldn’t secure coverage at all.

The Florida League of Cities helped municipalities secure insurance coverage when asked — usually during the League’s annual conferences. The League and then-Executive Director Ray Sittig decided to take that assistance a step further and, in 1977, established a pooled workers’ compensation program for Florida cities. Liability and health insurance soon followed, all managed by a third party.

The Trust is Born
The opening of the Public Risk Services Office in Orlando in 1987 provided significant cost savings, as the League moved administration of the three early trusts in-house. The workers’ compensation, liability, health and property (added in 1989) trusts would formally be consolidated under the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust (FMIT) in 1992.

In 40 years, what began as a program to provide workers’ compensation coverage has grown to offer property, auto, liability, workers’ compensation, health and additional coverage, as well as risk management and other in-house services to help municipalities save money and reduce claims. 

“The creation of the insurance offerings by the Florida League of Cities was critical for small to mid-sized cities that could not afford to self-insure,” said Jeannie Garner, deputy executive director of the League. “Bringing cities together created economies of scale and provided for efficiencies in pricing and service delivery.”

The Power of Pooling

When the Florida Legislature codified Home Rule powers for cities in 1973, no one knew what the ramifications would be. As the decade progressed and these powers became part of each city’s daily life, there arose the recognition that cities would benefit by sharing services, and that the definition of Home Rule should embrace this.

The Legislature amended Chapter 166, Florida Statutes, to ensure that what one municipality may do on its own, two or more may do together. This provision made possible the creation of the pooled trusts administered by the Florida League of Cities. Cities would unite to share their resources, as well as their risks, providing insurance for the benefit of participating local governments and their citizens.

In time, other local governments saw the wisdom of the pooled trust and began to join.

Pharma Profits by Compounding Drugs, at the Expense of Insured and Taxpayers  

Workers' Compensation Claims Manager

If a workers’ compensation claim stays open for more than a year, one of the biggest exposures involves the expense of medications. Sometimes, doctors prescribe generic drugs to the injured workers, and the monthly expense is minimal. Other cases involve brand prescriptions dispensed monthly over a life expectancy of 40 years or more. 

Lately, the craze is to compound two or more pharmaceuticals, ostensibly for convenience to the patient. The objective sounds good, but profits might be the pharmaceutical companies’ real motivation.

Big Pharma is out to make money, and passing costs on to insurance companies might not seem bad in these companies’ eyes. But insurers collect premiums from their insureds, which eventually are passed through to you and me in increased rates or taxes. Injured workers might not think this type of abuse affects them directly but, if they’re paying local or federal taxes, they are sadly mistaken. 

The link below provides insight into Big Pharma’s shenanigans. It was published by the FMIT’s pharmacy benefit-management company, myMatrixx.


Do You Talk With, Or At, Your Employees?


Risk Control Consultant


Organizations that regularly communicate with their staff report higher employee engagement, lower turnover, higher performance and higher financial returns. 

 
In addition, continuing and consistent communication reduces workers’ compensation injuries, accidents and other general-liability risks. Communicate, and you will experience greater employee satisfaction and performance in the long term.
 
Four tips you can use right now with your employees:

  • Be honest.
  • Build trust. 
  • Be transparent. 
  • Solicit feedback. 
 
If you want employees to think of your organization as if it were their own, you must communicate more often and more effectively. While there are some sensitive issues that you should not broadcast widely, information sharing is important. It empowers your employees and cuts down on rumors. If you engage employees, and show you care about them, they will stick with you. 
 
Employees will only help you through encouragement, not by mandate. Studies have shown that pay is a short-term motivator, but don't forget that it is important. If they can't feed their families and pay their bills, all the verbal motivation in the world is not going to keep them. If they do stay, they will not be very productive on your behalf. 
 
We often hear from management that “our staff is our greatest asset.” Employers must practice what they preach and treat their people with honesty, respect, openness and two-way communication.
 
Employees can make or break your organization. They can do this unintentionally or intentionally, but the results are the same.
 
There was a retail store owner who grew his business tremendously over the years. Although he was a successful entrepreneur, he had failed miserably at taking care of his employees. One day, he received an overnight package at his corporate office that contained the managers’ keys to every one of his retail stores. There had been such a revolt against his management style that all of the managers had contacted one another and agreed to quit en masse. In a single day, they closed every one of his stores. He could not recover and lost his business — and a fortune.
 
While this is a drastic example, it tells the importance of treating employees with respect. Start by communicating your organization’s mission, its goals and the role they play in the organization’s success. If you treat employees fairly, they will stay with you, they will perform and they will help you succeed.
How to Recharge Your Wellness Program 


Gwen Knight

Hometown Health Manager


Does your municipality offer its employees a wellness program? If so, you might have noticed a drop-off in participation after the first couple of years. If that’s the case, you may need to recharge your program. Here are a few tips:  

Communicate, and communicate some more.
A communication plan is crucial to keeping your employees engaged in your wellness program. It is important that participants understand the overall objectives of the program, and the level of engagement they will need to realize benefits. Communicate regularly through a variety of platforms – quarterly wellness seminars (or lunch and learns), posters or flyers, newsletters, postcards and emails – to raise awareness of what your program offers.

Leadership visibility is crucial.
It’s not enough that your city’s leaders support your wellness program. They need to be actively engaged. Employees who see that their leaders personally participate will have a much higher chance of engagement themselves.  

Use technology.
Is there an app for that? If so, by all means promote the use of a mobile app for your wellness program. This will allow your participants to easily track their wellness goals, or the status of their incentives for participation. Wearable health-tracking devices like Fitbit have become popular. Be sure to check whether your wellness vendor has the capability to sync these devices with your wellness program mobile app. Technology helps make it easier for participants to engage in your program.  

Provide participant support.
Completing any behavior-change program can be difficult, especially when you’re doing it alone. Provide your employees with an outlet to share their progress with others they trust. This may mean providing access to professional health coaches, but also to an online platform where they can exchange messages with co-workers who are participating in the program. This sort of peer feedback can contribute toward a workplace culture of wellness.

The Hometown Health wellness program is a turnkey-ready program available to all municipalities providing employee health Insurance through FMIT. For more information, contact program manager Gwen Knight at gknight@flcities.com
Get a Jump Start on Reporting Retiree Health Benefits


Nicolle Bournival
Financial Services Specialist

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has approved a new statement to improve accounting and financial reporting for local governments that provide “Other Post-Employment Benefits.” (OPEB)

 

What are Other Post-Employment Benefits?

These include any benefit promised to employees in retirement other than a pension plan. Benefits include retiree health, life, dental, vision and prescription-drug insurance, or other health care benefits.

 

Primary Objectives:

Improve accounting and financial reporting for post-employment benefits by state and local government. Statement No. 75 requires state and local government to report liability on financial statements for these benefits, similar to pension liabilities. 


Strict Reporting Requirements:

  • The statement is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2017.
  • Statement No. 75 replaces Statement No. 45.
  • Statement No. 75 will be reported for cities’ 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

  Biggest Changes:

  • Governments will report only liabilities related to their own employees, and that provide these benefits through a defined-benefit plan administered through a trust that meets specified criteria.
  • Governments that participate in a cost-sharing plan administered through a trust that meets the specified criteria will report a liability equal to their proportionate share of the collective liability.
  • Governments that do not provide these benefits through a trust must report their total liability related to employees.


For further information, contact Nicolle Bournival at nbournival@flcities.com or (850) 701-3630.


The State of Legal Protections for LGBTQ Employees 

LGBTQ rights in the workplace and employers’ corresponding obligations became more defined through three federal court rulings this spring.


Until now, many courts have dismissed lawsuits alleging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law proscribing employment discrimination against an individual because of, among other things, his or her sex.


However, on April 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit became the first federal appellate court to hold sexual orientation discrimination is actionable under Title VII as a form of sex discrimination.
 

In addition, over time employers may also face new challenges regarding the rights of transgender employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 

Summary of an article by Kimberly Doud. She is of counsel in the Orlando office of Littler Mendelson P.C.


Read the complete article

 
The FMIT, through a partnership with Littler Mendelson, the largest law firm in the U.S. specializing in HR/employment practices law, offers its members no-cost live and online access to Littler's legal experts. Read more about the FMIT Employment Practices Law Assistance program.


Is Your City Overpaying for Telecommunication Services? 

The Florida League of Cities Telecom Cost Reduction Program may be able to save you money!


In an effort to control our operating costs, the city contracted with the Florida League of Cities Telecom Team to evaluate the city’s phone lines and hopefully realize savings. We were NOT disappointed. The Telecom Team not only met, but exceeded our expectations. They thoroughly reviewed our entire network and then recommended changes. By implementing these changes, we are set to realize annual savings in excess of $100,000. I would recommend them to any city or government agency."    - Adam Reichbach, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Margate


The FLC Telecom Cost Reduction Program team works with your city’s IT department to provide a complete review and analysis of its current telecom situation/network to identify cost-saving opportunities. Our team has worked with more than 40 municipalities, both large and small, resulting in significant refunds, lower monthly charges and contract renegotiation, while achieving substantial cost savings for cities.


Contact Molly Hall at (850) 701-3681 for more information.