A Lexington agency gets to keep the city's insurance business — for now.
In October, the city decided to end its 54-year long relationship with Frankfort agency Chenault and Hoge.
After Chenault and Hoge Agent and Partner Susan Coblin spoke at the Frankfort City Commission meeting on Oct. 14, commissioners asked for a 90-day review examining the differences between the two companies.
During the commission’s Monday night regular meeting, the 90-day review period was up, and commissioners heard from Chenault and Hoge, Roeding and Frankfort City Manager Keith Parker on the outcome.
Commissioner John Sower made a motion to end the city’s contract with Roeding effective Feb. 1 and for the city to switch back to Chenault and Hoge.
The motion failed, with Commissioners Katrisha Waldridge, Eric Whisman and Mayor Bill May voting against the motion.
Waldridge, Whisman and May voted against the motion because they believed they needed more information about both companies and claims made in their presentations before making a decision. After the motion failed, the commission directed City Solicitor Laura Ross to research its questions.
Waldridge led the efforts to ask Ross to research the commission's questions, which did not require a vote from the commission.
Before the commission made its decision, it heard from all parties involved.
Roeding President Sue Porter said that while the company's office is in Lexington, she and many of Roeding’s employees have Frankfort ties or live in Frankfort.
Porter told the commission that she grew up in Frankfort and her father owned several businesses on West Main Street among other properties across Frankfort when she was a child.
“All of our roots run deep in this town,” Porter said. “This town is ours too.”
Porter said she believes she and her team have done well for the city. She said the agency focuses on insuring municipalities, therefore making them highly qualified to manage the city’s insurance.
Roeding Account Executive David Brooks and Director of Operations Michael Turner, a former city commissioner, also spoke, explaining to the commission what the agency has done for the city in terms of savings and increasing coverage.
Porter said as of Monday, Roeding had increased the city’s annual savings to $37,000 by updating its safety scorecard with the Kentucky League of Cities early.
During Coblin’s turn to speak for Chenault and Hoge, she argued that Chenault and Hoge knows the city and its needs better than Roeding.
Coblin also said that in recent years her agency brought the city’s insurance premium costs down from more than $1 million to $700,000.
She argued that if given the opportunity, Chenault and Hoge could do exactly for the city what Roeding is doing.
Coblin said Roeding was able to reduce premiums by reducing coverage in some areas and raising deductibles in others, which, in her opinion, was not a good decision.
Parker later said he was under the impression that the city commission wanted him to find areas to cut costs in the budget so property taxes wouldn’t be increased. He said he looked at the number of claims in each area of coverage and made the decision to take some risk and lower the premiums and raise the deductibles in some areas.
Granville Coblin, agent and partner at Chenault and Hoge, also spoke. He criticized Parker’s role in the RFQ process and accused Parker of forming a biased committee that would vote in favor of the company Parker preferred.
Parker denied Granville Coblin’s claims.
Before voting on Sower’s motion, Waldridge noted that it would not be a good decision for the city commission to vote to switch back Chenault and Hoge effective Feb. 1, because the commission asked Roeding to prove it could do well for the city within 90 days and to her, it appears the company was meeting expectations.
Waldridge also noted she was not voting against Sower’s motion to choose sides but to protect the commission’s integrity.
Commissioner Scott Tippett, who voted in favor of Sower’s motion, said early on he was in favor of keeping the city’s insurance broker local and that the decision not to keep using Chenault and Hoge was bad for local business and the economy.
He urged his fellow commissioners to vote on what is right and not make a decision based on this year’s election. Waldridge and Whisman are running for reelection; Tippett, Sower and May are not.
Before voting, Whisman and May expressed the desire to reexamine both companies and do more research before making a decision.
By the end of the week, Ross will receive questions in writing from the city commission. She will present the answers on Feb. 8.
In other business, Parker discussed with city commission the possibility of a joint meeting with the Franklin County Fiscal Court on Feb. 10 to hear from Hazard-based developer Marty Johnson of New Frankfort Development LLC on creating a tax increment financing plan for the development of Parcels B and C.
Those plans include residential and commercial development, a new parking garage, a brand new YMCA and more.
The nearly 12-acre property is the site of the demolished Frankfort Convention Center and adjacent Fountain Place Shoppes. The property also includes the land under the YMCA and Capital Plaza Hotel along with an existing state parking garage.
At the end of the meeting, the city commission voted 4-1 to allow city staff to use $150,000 to conduct feasibility studies on building a boardwalk or floating dock along the Kentucky River near Blanton's Landing and to install string lights along the St. Clair Street mall.
The $150,000 was already a budget item. Whisman was the lone dissenter.