SHAMOKIN - The city will contract with a benefits consulting firm to pursue less costly employee health insurance.

The mayor and city council voted 4-0 to pay $1,100 a month to BSI Corporate Benefits for consulting services. In favor were Mayor George Rozinskie and councilmen William Milbrand, R. Craig Rhoades and William Strausser. Councilman Michael Snyder was absent.

The contract calls for BSI to perform an analysis of the city's current health plan and conduct a full market review. It also would work with union leadership on benefit education and potential changes or enhancements, along with establishing a employee wellness program.

BSI has offices in Bethlehem and Detroit, Mich. Administrators from the firm pitched a proposal to council during a workshop session in March.

Shamokin currently belongs to Pennsylvania Municipal Health Insurance Cooperative, described as a umbrella group of municipal entities that pools its resources to receive competitive health insurance rates.

The city received an annual average reimbursement from PMHIC of $56,709.80 between 2006 and 2010, according to the latest figures provided by City Hall.

PMHIC is administered by The Benecon Group, of Lititz, a benefits consulting firm. Capital BlueCross is the city's health care provider through PMHIC.

According to the 2013 budget, the city will pay more than $604,000 for employee health and vision insurance.

Steve Bartos, city clerk, said last month that the cost could surpass $1 million by 2017. He estimates the city could save about $200,000 with a change in health insurance providers, which BSI will be tasked to research and, with council's approval, pursue.

If the city were to end its arrangement with PMHIC ahead of 2014, it must provide notification no later than June 1.

In other business, council voted to approve:

- A promotion for City Hall secretary Michelle Quinn, who will become human resources specialist. It includes a salary increase of $1,700. According to the 2013 budget, her salary was $16,205.33 prior to the increase. Councilman R. Craig Rhoades voted in opposition;

- Grant Kelly Haines, deputy treasurer, an hourly raise of 12 cents. The portion of her salary paid by the city - like the treasurer, she is also paid by Northumberland County and Shamokin Area School District - prior to the raise was $6,246.24 for 2013;

- A contract not to exceed $3,000 for Powell, Rogers and Speaks, of Halifax, the city's delinquent tax collection agency, to perform a door-to-door survey in a as-yet-undesignated city ward towards creating a plan to boost tax collections;

- A plan by Citizens for a Better Community to sell "Shamokin/Coal Township Hometown Heroes" banners to be hung along Independence Street in the city's downtown. The program would mirror a similar initiative in Sunbury. Banners would include the name, rank and photograph of local military personnel along with additional information, and would be purchased by a sponsor. The 2-by-4-foot banners would be hung from May 30 into November. Initial cost is $200, and the banners will be hung each year afterward at an annual cost of $50. Contact Angie Arnold at 648-6294 or no1nurse@ptd.net for more information;

- The Kallaway Center for the Arts, 144 E. Lincoln St. as tax-exempt. The building was donated to Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities;

- Restrict parking in lots used for the Rock Street swimming pool only for pool patrons and parishioners of nearby churches, and only when the pool is open and events are being held at churches;

- Change the 400 block of North Franklin Street, between Spurzheim and Clay streets, from one-way to two-way traffic. A stop sign will be placed at Spurzheim and Franklin streets. The change was made to accommodate vehicle traffic entering and exiting a dirt lot across from the Shamokin Police Department;

- VFW Post 317's annual poppy sale from 7:30 a.m. to noon May 11 at Eighth and Independence streets;

- Coal Township VFW's annual Memorial Day March at 9:30 a.m. May 27 along Lincoln Street between Eighth and Market streets;

- A request to provide a letter of support for any grant applications prepared by Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority to offset the cost of federally mandate sewer system upgrades;

- Allow Meg Bartos to host a chicken barbecue from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at Claude Kehler Memorial Park.