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Pinellas board: Is broker contract needed?

Aon Consulting, Inc., has negotiated health insurance and benefits plans for Pinellas County school employees for more than two decades. But with district finances what they are, school board member Janet Clark said she's reluctant to give the company another contract.

Clark cast the lone dissenting vote against renewing a contract with Aon Tuesday. Board members took a vote on the $750,000 annual agreement, however, only after shortening the length of the contract to two years instead of three as superintendent Julie Janssen originally proposed.

"In these financial times, this money is coming from somewhere," Clark said, "and I think it's coming from the pocketbooks of our employees."

Board members Linda Lerner and Terry Krassner joined Clark in raising questions about the arrangement.

Ted Pafundi, director of Risk Management & Insurance for the district, said the company brings savings to the district due to its "expertise" and "clout" when it comes to negotiating with insurers. "You really need somebody who is going to sit with you and walk you through the process," Pafundi said.

Materials submitted to the board read that the company is responsible for bringing savings as high as $20 million to the district.

Meanwhile, the cost to employees, administrators told the board, is less than $2 per pay period.

"That's a cable bill," Clark responded.

the cost to employees comes to less than $2 per pay period but results in savings to the .