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Floyd County OKs new health insurance plan, boosts pay for employee

By Bob Steenson,

Floyd County supervisors made quick decisions Tuesday morning on a couple of issues that had prompted lengthy discussions in previous weeks.

The board approved moving to a new county employee health care provider and approved new premium rates for employees, and also approved a new higher pay level for at least one clerk in a county office.

The supervisors needed to make a decision on health insurance so open enrollment can be held for the county’s 107 employees before the end of the year.

Premium costs for the county have skyrocketed, primarily due to two years where the county’s insurance provider, Wellmark, paid out significantly more in claims for covered county employees and family members than it received in premiums.

The rates for the current year went up about 24 percent and the increase for next year was estimated at about 26 percent.

The county has shielded employees from much of that increase, however, by continuing to pay the entire premium for employees with single coverage and paying 75 percent of the premium for employees with family coverage.

In addition, the county covers much of the deductible cost for covered employees.

To help contain the rate hike for next year, the supervisors agreed Tuesday to switch insurance brokers from Holmes Murphy and Associates to the Iowa Government Health Care Plan (IGHCP), a benefit trust plan that covers more than 3,000 employees of Iowa cities, counties and a few schools.

Insurance will continue to be provided by Wellmark through Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and coverage will remain largely the same for employees, but the county will save more than $200,000 next year over the projected rates for similar coverage through Holmes Murphy.

The single employee premium cost will increase from the current $598 per month to $811, an almost 36 percent increase, but the county will continue to pay that entire cost for employees.

The family coverage premium will increase from the current $1,586 per month to $1,960, an increase of almost 24 percent, and the county will continue to pick up 75 percent of that cost.

That means the premium cost to county employees with family coverage will increase from $396.50 per month to $490.10, an increase of 23.6 percent. The county’s share will increase from $1,189.50 a month to $1,470.30.

Under the IGHCP plan, the single family annual deductible will increase from the current $2,000 to $5,000, but the county will continue to cover all but the first $500 of that.

Family deductible will increase from $4,000 to $10,000, but the county will cover all but the first $1,000 of that, the same as with the current plan.

The impact of shielding employees from the full brunt of the increase will cost the county an additional $371,000 next year.

Also Tuesday, the supervisors approved raising the pay of a clerk in the County Treasurer’s Office to $24 an hour.

Treasurer Frank Rottinghaus had requested that the supervisors approve creating a new position of specialist to replace a long-time deputy to handle motor vehicle registrations, titles and license plates. He wanted to create the position for a clerk in his office who had assumed the duties of an office deputy who had retired.

A resolution passed by the supervisors in 2013 had mandated that offices have only one deputy, so that when deputies left or retired they were replaced by lower-paid clerks.

A resolution to create the specialist position died Tuesday when no supervisor moved to approve it.

Rottinghaus had requested that the position be paid $25 an hour and the employee be reimbursed retroactively to the time she took over the duties.

Supervisors agreed to create the position of motor vehicle clerk and approved a pay increase to $24 an hour effective with the current pay period, but not retroactive.

Other county elected officials, who have also lost deputies in the past and transferred their duties to clerks, have indicated they will also likely seek pay increases for their clerks. Currently the highest paid clerks had been receiving $21.12 an hour.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved a resolution to issue $6.01 million in property-tax-backed general obligation bonds to begin funding the voter-approved county law enforcement center and updates to the county courthouse.

Voters approved selling up to $13.5 million in bonds, but the county is splitting the issue between two calendar years to keep the total bonded indebtedness each year below $10 million to qualify for a lower interest rate.

  • Approved various amendments and agreements having to do with TIF (tax increment financing) districts and support of the Charles City Area Development Corp.
  • Approved spending approximately $631,000 for the county Secondary Road Department to purchase three tandem axle Mack trucks to be used as snow plows and for other uses.

County Engineer Dusten Rolando said he needed to order the trucks now so that they can be delivered before winter next year. The purchases had been provided for in his budget.