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CONTACT: Michael Bates, Director, Human Relations Department, (816) 513-1801

Domestic partners benefit program plan announced

A plan for implementing a domestic partner benefit program for City employees is being outlined today by City Manager Wayne Cauthen in a memo to the Mayor and City Council. The City Council passed a resolution April 24, instructing the City Manager to prepare the legislation to create a Domestic Partnership Registry and a plan to implement the benefit program May 1, 2004.

The plan includes the required steps for implementation, cost estimates and a timetable for implementation. Legislation creating the Domestic Partnership Registry will be introduced at the legislative session of the City Council July 19.

The registry is the first step in implementing a domestic partners benefit program. It establishes the definition of domestic partner. The City’s insurance carriers must agree with the definition to establish eligibility. Proposed criteria include:

Partners share the same principal residence.
The partners agree to be responsible for each other’s basic living expenses during their domestic partnership; and that anyone who is owed these expenses can collect from either of them.
Partners reside in Kansas City, Mo.
Partners are not so closely related by blood that legal marriage would otherwise be prohibited, nor are they legally married to anyone else, and are the sole partners of each other.
Partners are at least 18 years of age or older and are mentally competent to consent to contract.
Partners have signed an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership before a notary. Partners are financially interdependent and have proven such interdependence by providing an affidavit in lieu of documentation of at least two of the following arrangements: common ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in such property; common ownership of a motor vehicle; a joint bank account or a joint credit account; designation as a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement benefits or under the partner’s will; assignment of durable power of attorney; or such other proof as is considered to be sufficient to establish financial interdependency under the circumstances of their particular case.
Partners may be of the same or opposite sex.
Provision for termination of the partnership.
A penalty for the fraudulent misrepresentation of a domestic partnership.

The legislation also would establish the City Clerk’s Office as the office to certify the creation or termination of a domestic partnership. The Clerk can assess a fee to defray administrative costs to process the applications.

Once the registry is established, the City would amend its contracts with insurance carriers when the contracts are up for renewal and new bids are sought. The City Council would need to approve the ordinances naming the carriers and the benefits provided by the carriers. Several existing ordinances relating to benefits also would need to be modified by the City Council.

Estimated costs at this time are:

Health Insurance -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is currently the only health insurance carrier for active City employees. The company has agreed to add domestic partners and their children to the definition of qualified dependents on all plans effective May 1, 2004. The cost will be a 1 percent increase in premium which at this time would be $280,000 (the City’s portion would be $234,000).

Dental Insurance -- CIGNA and Delta Dental are currently the two dental insurance companies offered. Both have agreed to add domestic partners and their children to the definition of qualified dependents on all plans effective May 1, 2004 at no additional cost.

Dependent Life Insurance -- Standard Life Insurance is the only life insurance carrier and has agreed to add domestic partners and their children to the definition of qualified dependents on all plans effective May 1, 2004 at no additional cost.

Additional costs may include those associated with family medical leave, funeral leave and educational leave.

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