CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign City Council unanimously voted down an agreement with an employee-benefits broker, after several council members questioned why more local options weren’t rated more highly.
City staff had recommended a $40,000 year-long agreement with Cincinnati-based USI Insurance Services, which has a Champaign office, even though it wasn’t the lowest bidder.
USI got 85 points in the city’s rubric, Champaign-based Barham Benefits Group got 77, Orland Park-based Horton Insurance Group got 75 and Champaign-based Insurance Providers Group received 42 points.
While Barham Benefits Group scored higher on cost and approach, it scored lower on resources and expertise/personnel.
“Yes, there were a couple of proposals that proposed a lower fee for health insurance. It was a very small amount. One was $4,000 less, one was $10,000 less,” city risk manager Larry Krause said. “But the level of services, and the level of support that those brokers proposed were not as good as” USI.
Council member Greg Stock said he felt the city’s matrix put smaller, local businesses at a disadvantage.
“I feel a little bit like the system is sort of skewed for a … smaller company,” he said. “With our matrix, I don’t see how a smaller, local business is going to be able to compete with a USI, simply because of staffing, and I feel like they’re going to get hit every single time.”
Fellow council members Clarissa Fourman also opposed the deal.
“This feels a little like we are stepping on the small-business guy who has an office that we drive by twice a week when I’m on my way to Girl Scouts,” she said. “This doesn’t look good at all.”
The city’s current contract with USI runs through March 1, 2021.