County employees will see 4% increase in health insurance

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Marion County employees can look for a 4 percent increase in health insurance costs this year, Tim Oglesby, Blue Cross Blue Shield representative, told the Marion County Commission Monday.

With deductibles the same for health, drug and dental plan, the costs a month will rise from $364.84 to about $379.06 for a single plan, and from $827.29 to about $840.09 for a family plan.

Commissioners said because of the reliability of Blue Cross and the relatively small increase that has occurred in recent years, they won’t seek competitive bids.

Oglesby said he will present a plan to employees in county meetings on a disability plan that will pay 70 percent of an employee’s wages on the 15th day after an occurrence.

Some employees apparently may have tried to broaden their health benefits by circumventing rules, according to County Clerk Carol Maggard, who asked commissioners what they wanted to do about it.

Maggard said the county provided flu shots for employees and their immediate families with the health department presenting a bill to the county for the costs. Maggard said the health department invoice showed about five questionable recipients for injections ranging from a “friend” of an employee to a “mother” of an employee.

Commissioner Howard Collett said going through the invoice to try to collect for shots that shouldn’t have been given “would be like trying to draw water after it’s gone under a bridge to try to put it back upstream.”

Commissioner Bob Hein said what is needed is a written policy for next time, perhaps limiting flu shots to only relatives who live with employees.

Commission Chairman Leroy Wetta said the limit might be for legal spouses and dependent children only.

The commissioners said they wanted a better process next time for tax sale of property than the 22 properties package with a $3,300 invoice for title search from Hannaford Abstract & Title Co. attached.

Collett said that was too few properties for cost efficiency.

Hein said the last tax sale included more than 100 properties.

The commissioners approved the sale and the bill, but suggested they wanted a larger number of properties at a time in the future, and that they might want to look at competitive bidding for title search.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to appoint Megan Kilgore of Hillsboro as point person for the county micro loan program.

Maggard said the Kansas Department of Commerce will send a person to the county at 10 a.m. Feb. 4 to audit the micro loan program that was funded through a KDC grant.

Hein said Mike Kleiber of Hillsboro had asked to withdraw from appointment to the county’s new economic volunteer task force because of family health considerations, and he therefore was appointing Darrell Driggers of Hillsboro instead.

David Brazil, planning and zoning, sanitarian and transfer station director, presented activity and budget reports, as he said, enough paper “that I cut down the whole tree for today.”

Among the many things he listed was a report of 67 rural construction applications for the county in 2003, a figure that would include farm buildings. Planning and zoning approved 92 applications, modified 13, had one withdrawn, and turned down zero.

Brazil said in 2003, its first year of county operation, the transfer station averaged 513.4 tons of solid waste a month for a total of 6,403.58 tons, 18.95 tons of commercial and demolition wastes a month for a total of 82.6 tons, and 0.4 ton of tires a month for a total of 11.68 tons.

Of Brazil’s sanitarian activities, 59 percent were devoted to wastewater applications, 14 percent to water supply applications, 10 percent to real estate inspections, and 17 percent to water screening inquiries.

The commissioners approved a resolution authorizing establishing a 28-day payroll period for the communications department “to facilitate authorization to fill an opening for communications supervisor and communications foreman” after a 15-minute executive session with Michele Abbott-Becker, communications and emergency management director.

Abbott-Becker reported continual difficulties trying to integrate a new server with older computer equipment.

The commissioners met with Sheriff Lee Becker to continue considerations of possible replacement of a sheriff’s squad car-considering one is down with transmission problem-with a Kansas Highway Patrol Fleet Sales police interceptor, which most often mentioned was a lower end 2001 Ford Crown Victoria priced at $11,500.

Funding would have to come from the general fund, commissioners said.

Becker asked if an emergency medical services ambulance call to the jail for an inmate could be reduced as Medicaid calls are.

Wetta said, “If we have to write them off for everybody else, I don’t know why we can’t for you.”

Becker received commissioner approval to charge cities in the county $45 a day for inmate care- just as the county pays if it has to place an inmate with another jail.

Hein commended Becker and Undersheriff Randy Brazil for the job they and deputies had done in controlling a roaming cattle problem.

To facilitate budgeting, Becker asked commissioners for help in seeing that most money the sheriff’s office bills out-sometimes from costs he has paid out under grant funds-is paid back to the sheriff’s budget rather than to the county general fund.

Becker said the Marion County Jail housed 445 inmates in 2003, 350 of them male and 95 of them female. The highest total jail population month was September with 48 persons-33 males and 15 females-but the number of males was higher twice with 37 in both November and December. The lowest female month was 4 in July while the lowest male month was 18 in March.

Noreen Weems, director of the elderly, reported that at the Senior Citizens of Marion County Inc. board meeting in January in Hillsboro, the decision was made to pull $100 each for seven senior centers from funds left from the Nancy Reynolds estate at Marion National Bank to enable a carry over amount of $8,965 to start the 2004 mill levy budget year.

Weems told commissioners she had emphasized the importance of friendship in her talk at that meeting, particularly because of the shared sorrow over the loss of so many valued “old timers” in the county.

Future dates for SCMC board meetings are Feb. 20 at Florence, March 19 at Tampa, April 16 at Lincolnville, May 21 at Ramona, June 18 at Burns, July 16 at Goessel, Aug. 20 at Lehigh, Sept. 17 at Durham, still open for October, Nov. 19 at Peabody and Dec. 17 at Marion.

The commissioners approved a resolution giving Noxious Weed Director Bill Smithhart authority to spend $15,000 for herbicide for weed control on land without an actively growing crop.

They approved a $10,063.12 bid from Cardie Oil Co. of Tampa for road and bridge transport fuel bids on 4,000 gallons of diesel in tank No. 3 at $1.0831 a gallon for $5,272, 900 gallons diesel in tank No. 1 at $1.05381 a gallon for $948.42, and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline at $1.2809 a gallon for $3,042.70.

They awarded a bid of $78,000 on 6,000 tons of road and bridge cold mix surfacing material to Koss Construction Co. Inc. of Topeka.

Gerald Kelsey, road and bridge director, said the county continues to have a problem of long standing with heavily loaded cattle trucks creating premature wear on the surface of Potwin Road.

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