The city will see an unanticipated 12-percent decrease, or about $51,000, in employee health insurance costs in the new year, while maintaining the same amount of coverage.

Aldermen voted unanimously last week to keep the existing Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance coverage for city employees through Philadelphia Security Insurance.

City clerk James Johnson said Monday that the city spends about $400,000 annually to cover employees.

It costs the city about $4,000 a year per employee.

Alan Hardy of Security Insurance said the reduction stemmed from a decrease in insurance claims over the past year.

During the budgeting process in August, aldermen had anticipated a 15 percent increase or about $68,500.

At that time, the city discussed increasing the deductible from $500 to $1,000 and dropping dental and vision coverage which would save the city about $47,000.

Aldermen also discussed asking city employees to pay 12 percent of their health insurance coverage after the first of the year.

The board voted to keep the current coverage last Tuesday, Dec. 3 during the regularly scheduled meeting.

Most aldermen were ready to immediately renew with the exception of Ward 1 Alderman Josh Gamblin who asked if there was a way to allow employees already covered by another insurance policy to opt out of coverage provided by the city.

Attorney Robert Thomas said the city had to provide insurance to all employees.

Mayor James Young said he didn't want to make changes to the insurance coverage at this time.

Alderman-at-Large Willie Jackson made the motion to renew the policy.