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Commissioners ponder changes to employee health insurance package

By Carol McIntire and
Leigh Ann Rutledge
FPS Reporters

Carroll County Commissioner Bob Wirkner shared news with fellow commissioners that sparked a lengthy discussion on health care last week.

Wirkner attended a County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio (CEBCO) meeting recently to gather information on the county’s employee health insurance package.

“We will have a 4.7 percent increase in our premium for 2014,” said Wirkner. “That translates into an increase of $107,946 for the county.”

He said the county Benefits Committee has been working on ways to offset a premium increase by possibly increasing deductibles or co-pays for doctor visits, stat care and emergency room visits.

Commissioners also discussed the possibility of requiring the spouses of employees who have a health care plan offered at their place of employment go on that plan rather than the county’s insurance.

“That would save us money, but I also know there are some employees who are on their spouse’s insurance. How to you manage that?” Wheaton asked.

“Even if we raised both of them substantially, we wouldn’t be able to offset the increase,” he said. “I know we have an extra pay next year and we are giving a three percent pay increase, but I would like to see us hold the line on increasing the cost employees pay for insurance,” he said. He said he would like to propose the idea to the Benefits Committee, which was scheduled to meet Sept. 20.

“We have not promised a three percent pay raise,” said Commissioner President Tom Wheaton. “We can’t commit to that until we know what our money is at the beginning of the year. I am not against the people who work for us, I think this is something we can look at, but I think it’s dangerous to tell people we are going to do it when maybe we can’t do it.”

“I would rather we under promise and over deliver rather than over promise and under deliver,” said Commissioner Jeff Ohler. “We can certainly look at this at the first of the year and then if we decide we can afford to pay the increase, begin paying it later in the year.”

Wirkner once again pressed for a commitment to pay for the increase, which he did not receive.

“I won’t make a commitment now,” Wheaton said.

“We have a lot of things to consider at budget time such as hiring,” Ohler said. “I don’t want you to go down that road.”

Wirkner noted all employer taxes required under the new health care law are included in the 4.7 percent increase.

Wirkner noted a decision on any changes to the plan must be made by Oct. 1 so the county can meet the timeline of the new law. “If we don’t make any changes, it will be a snap for us to meet that deadline,” he said.

He said CEBCO officials recommended the county not make any changes to the plan for the 2014 year.

On Monday, commissioners again discussed healthcare options with no outcome.  Wirkner reiterated the agreement needs to be signed but commissioners want to wait until after the leadership meeting Sept. 26 before taking action.  Figures show close to 70 percent of those insured are insured outside the general fund. 

Wirkner noted the leadership and budget committee meetings are lightly attended.  “People are surprised when they find out what transpires,” he said.  “Whose fault is that?”

In other business, commissioners:
-TRANSFERRED $12,000 from the Clerk of Courts Title Fund to the county general fund to assist with costs associated with moving files at the request of Clerk of Courts Bill Wohlwend.

 - APPROVED an amendment to the Summer Youth Work Program extending it until Oct. 30 for youth already enrolled in the program.

-TRANSFERRED the title of a Ford Crown Victoria owned by the Department of Job and Family Services to the Airport Authority for the purchase price of $1,500.

-AGREED to accept quotes from auctioneers to conduct the county surplus sale until Sept 27 at 3:30 p.m. The sale was scheduled for Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m.

-AGREED to sell to tractors used at Atwood Lake Resort and Golf Club in the county auction with the possibility of establishing a minimum bid.

-APPROVED a road use maintenance agreement with Cardinal Gas Services LLC to use portions of Aurora, Meter, Mark, Morning and Bane roads for ingress and egress to the Aurora Gathering Line.

-LEARNED the county’s share of the Multi County Attention System budget for 2104 will be approximately $180,000, which is an increase of about $40,000 from 2013.

-HEARD the dog pound report which consisted of 11 impounded, 15 adopted, two redeemed and none euthanized.

-APPROVED a right of way usage for Aster Rd. in Loudon Twp.

-SET a deadline of Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. to submit ice and snow removal quotes.

-MET in executive session to discuss hiring of an Assistant Economic Development Director.

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