West Miami-Dade

Sweetwater agrees to pay to avoid cancellation of insurance

Sweetwater commissioners agreed Monday to pay up to $62,000 immediately to avoid cancellation of the city’s worker’s compensation insurance.

The city owes the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust a total of $138,000 for unpaid deductibles linked to dozens of claims for employee injuries over several years.

City Attorney Ralph Ventura told commissioners that if the city didn’t make an initial payment, then the Florida League of Cities, which runs the insurance trust, would cancel their insurance.

“It is absolutely, completely imperative that we preserve our insurance,” Ventura said at the meeting. “We cannot blow our insurance coverage.”

The league allowed the city to split their debt into an immediate payment of $61,623 and a second payment of $75,000 by Oct. 20, so that the payments are split between fiscal years.

The commission agreed to make an immediate payment, and acting financial officer Ricardo Mendez said he would call the league to negotiate the possibility of a smaller payment.

“We can’t run the risk of not paying them and finding out tomorrow or the following week that we have no insurance,” said Commissioner Orlando Lopez.

Back in July, the city received an invoice from the insurance trust showing that the Sweetwater owed more than $136,000 in workers’ compensation deductibles from three fiscal years.

The deductibles covered claims from 33 employees, most of whom were police officers or maintenance workers injured on the job.

A separate invoice indicated the city owes $2,000 for liability insurance from two fiscal years.