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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • County board gets heated over health insurance

  • Feelings ran strong at the regular monthly meeting of the Saline County Board, held Thursday night at the county courthouse. The board voted to remain with their current health insurance provider for the next year, though several members were strongly opposed to this move.
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  • Feelings ran strong at the regular monthly meeting of the Saline County Board, held Thursday night at the county courthouse. The board voted to remain with their current health insurance provider for the next year, though several members were strongly opposed to this move.

    Gary Siebert, chairman of the insurance committee, made a motion to renew the county's current health insurance because the provider is willing to freeze current rates until at least Dec. 2013. The motion was seconded by board member Bob Oglesby.

    A survey was done of county workers, who were mostly pleased with their current health insurance and Siebert said the savings to the county's taxpayers amount to around $150,000 a year with the current provider.

    However, board member Jonathon Prather spoke up, saying he disagrees with Siebert and thinks the insurance should be bid out to local companies. Prather made a motion to table the matter and allow local companies to bid on insurance.

    Oglesby stepped in, saying there's already a motion on the floor and it should be voted on before moving on to other discussion.

    Board member Danny Gibbs interrupted him at a near shout, saying he and Prather, who are members of the insurance committee, had not been notified about renewing the county's insurance. He felt it should have been discussed with them prior to Siebert bringing the matter to the board.

    Several board members said they thought local businesses should have another shot at providing the county's health insurance by allowing them to bid for it, but Siebert said he has spoken to some of them and they said they “can't touch” the current rates.

    “I was excited just to hear them say they aren't going to raise the premiums,” Siebert said, adding that a bid would be an “exercise in futility.”

    Board member Georgia Cowger spoke up, adding to the discussion that if the county employees are happy with their current insurance and if it saves taxpayers money, she doesn't think they should bid it out.

    Bruce Tolley, chairman of the budget committee, said they used the current insurance when creating the budget and if they choose to go with another company, the budget will not be completed in time.
    “This action tonight would cause us to go into fiscal year 2013 without a budget,” Tolley said.

    During a majority of the discussion, Gibbs was on his feet shouting at Siebert about the issue.
    Chairman Jay Williams finally got control over the board and asked for a roll call vote on the motion made by Siebert to stay with the current insurance provider.
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    Board members Joe Jackson, Gibbs and Prather voted against the motion, but it passed with all other members voting in favor.

    At the close of the meeting, several board members seemed angered by the board's decision. As Jackson walked out he told Williams this was going to make the board look bad and Gibbs continued to shout about the issue, saying he is resigning from the insurance committee.

    Gibbs lost his access to health insurance after the board voted to no longer allow county board members to be provided with insurance through the county at a previous meeting.
    Williams said after the meeting that although he's in favor of supporting local business, savings to county taxpayers by staying with the current provider make the board's decision the right one, in his opinion.

    During the meeting:
    --The board voted unanimously in favor of reappointing Lori Cox to a two-year term Southern 14 Workforce Investment Board to expire Oct. 2014.
    --The board voted unanimously in favor of reappointing Don Leibenguth to a five-year term to the Saline County Public Building Commission to expire Sept. 2017.
    --The board voted unanimously in favor of appointing Jim Campbell to replace David Aldridge, who resigned, to the Eldorado and Raleigh Pleasure Driveway and Park District for a term to expire July 2013.
    --Saline County Treasurer Danny Ragan gave his monthly report to the board, saying at the end of the month the county will be “$8,900 in the hole,” but last year at this time the county was nearly $150,000 behind.
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