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Concerns about new health insurance put to rest by Saline County Board

By Travis DeNeal
updated: 11/29/2019 1:43 PM

SALINE COUNTY -- Concerns regarding possible greater costs to the county regarding the county's new employee health insurance plans were put to rest Tuesday night.

County board members met Tuesday due to Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday.

Board chairman Jay Williams, whose signature was required to move forward with the county's new self-funded plan, said numbers he had been shown made the new plan look more expensive than the previous plan.

Cost-saving had been the primary reason for the switch, Williams said, and he was worried about committing to a greater expense.

"That's my name at the bottom of the contract," Williams said.

Budget committee member Wes Sherrod said the numbers Williams was concerned with were not being compared properly. Sherrod said the total with the old plan included credits to the plan, while totals under the new plan did not include those credits. Including credits with the new plan should bring the annual cost down to about $750,000, and possibly a good deal more, he said. Including credits, the old plan would have had a net annual cost of about $850,000.

Board members also approved a collective bargaining agreement between the county and Laborers International 773 on behalf of county employees, plus a similar contract for employees of the state's attorney's office, who also are represented by Laborers International 773.

The board also approved appointing public defenders Lowell Tyson, Nathan Rowland, Allen Roe and Neal Heflin all to one-year terms.

Before the board meeting concluded, board member Allan Porter suggested the county revisit eliminating township road commissions.

"What would the county save if it was to be consolidated," Porter asked.

Sherrod said he had looked at the option, and believed it could save the county about $1.4 million.

Audience member Eli McEwan asked to make a comment about the idea. McEwan said he had spoken to a member of Hardin County's government, and had learned that Hardin County had saved a considerable amount of money when it eliminated township road commissions.

"Right now, they have a budget surplus of $5 million and the lowest property taxes around," McEwan said.

Board member David Phelps cautioned that taking such action would change how local issues may be handled.

The board must wait until next year before it could take any action regarding township road commissions.