ENNIS — During their meeting Monday night, Ennis city commissioners unanimously approved a benefits package for city employee health insurance as proposed by Aetna Insurance.

Aetna’s was one of five proposals submitted to the city and included a premium set at $559.08 per month for the employee only, with an employee cost of $50.11.

To add a spouse would be a cost to the city of $1,363 with the employee cost being $122. The family plan would be at an employee cost of $130, with the city picking up $1,456.

In discussing changes, city manager Steve Howerton said the plan will only pay for emergency room visits if those are deemed true emergencies.

“Treatments for common colds that can wait until the next day for a regular doctor’s care will not be covered,” he said.

The employee life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment benefit increases from $3,000 to $5,000 as a part of the basic plan and at no additional cost to the employee.

For employees desiring dental coverage, the city will continue its contract with Fort Dearborn Life, with employees to continue paying 100 percent of the premium.

Figures from an annual insurance survey show the city paying 91 percent of the premium with the employee picking up the remaining 9 percent. The survey indicates a city of Waxahachie employee’s contribution is 56 percent while Midlothian’s employees pay 44 percent.

Other action before the commissioners was a request to change the zoning from commercial to institutional – planned development by Mount Zion Baptist, which operates a home for recovering substance abuse patients.

The first reading was approved with five criteria items recommended by the city’s chief building inspector, H.L. Markham. The permit is granted to Vision House with Tabitha Pennon as director to operate a development center for recovering substance abuse patients. Any change in the operations or directorship must be approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Among the other requirements are that the home is limited to five patients, the certificate of occupancy must be kept current and the occupant must abide by all codes and ordinances relating to use as an institutional occupancy.

The request will come before the commissioners for its second and final reading at their next meeting.

An ordinance approving a negotiated rate increase agreement with Atmos Energy. Howerton said Atmos originally applied for a $15.7 million increase April 1, with the city of Ennis joining a coalition of 154 cities in protest. A steering committee for the coalition subsequently negotiated a lower increase of $6.6 million. The negotiated increase in the company’s revenues will extend the incremental recovery cost of the steel service line replacement program.

The effect of the increase will be 31 cents additional cost to residential customers and an 88 cent additional cost to commercial customers as based on average usage, with Howerton saying, “This is a fairly modest increase and much less than originally requested.”

With a record vote, the commissioners unanimously approved a tax rate of 0.696 for the next fiscal year. This is the same tax rate as the current fiscal year but, due to an increase in the tax rolls, reflects a 1.63 percent increase in the effective tax rate.

With an increase, Howerton said the city is required to hold two public hearings with commissioners setting those for Aug. 16 and Sept. 6.