2011-04-09 / News

Proposal to share cost of health insurance rejected again

By Charles Prince

JACKSONTOWN – Licking Township Trustees’ discussion about their health insurance benefits Monday night turned into a replay of last year’s debate.

The issue came up at their March 21 meeting. Trustee President Joe Hart presented a cost sharing analysis. Last year, he proposed that each plan member pay a $500 deductible. The plan has a $2,000 deductible per person but any payments to satisfy the deductible are 100 percent reimbursed by the township. His 2010 motion died for the lack of a second.

“I still feel that we need to set some example,” Hart said March 21. Trustee Dave Miller said he had spoken about the issue with assistant prosecutor Jim Miller who serves as the township’s legal counsel. Dave Miller said Jim Miller said adding a co-pay is prohibited. “You can’t change it in mid-term,” Dave Miller added.

Hart questioned Dave Miller’s interpretation of Jim Miller’s comments. Hart added that meant trustees would have very little control over one of their largest expenses. “I would like to have Jim Miller explain this to me,” he said. Dave Miller and Trustee Ron Acord agreed to delay the vote on the new policy for two weeks to give Hart time to talk with Jim Miller.

Monday night Hart gave Acord and Miller a letter from Jim Miller. He explained that the prohibition on mid-term changes applies strictly to types of coverage. For example, a township with just hospitalization and medical coverage could not add a medication benefit, dental or vision coverages mid-term, nor could it drop medical coverage.

“It (the prohibition) doesn’t have anything do with a co-pay or a deductible,” Hart explained.

He then proposed accepting an optional plan with a $2,500 per person deductible with each plan participant responsible for the first $250. That was one half of last year’s cost sharing proposal.

Dave Miller favored raising the deductible to $2,500 while still retaining the current 100 percent reimbursement. Hart’s motion for an individual $250 per year deductible died for lack of a second. Miller’s motion to set a $2,500 deductible with 100 percent reimbursement was approved 2-1, with Hart voting “No.”

In other township business, Licking Fire Company Chief Mike Wilson had some good news for trustees. He said a 2010 application for a federal FEMA grant had been approved. It requiresa5percentlocalmatch so the township will have to put up $4,272 to get $81,178 from FEMA. Wilson said the grant will pay for 30 sets of firefighter turnout gear and a special washer and dryer that reduces the wear and tear on the material. He had more good news when he told trustees that the grant money can be used to reimburse the township for the 11 sets of gear purchased last year. So 19 more sets will be purchased this year. Wilson said it’s the department’s third FEMA grant in the last 10 years.

The fire company had 80 runs in March – 63 EMS and 17 fire. Year-to-date runs total 216.

At the March 21 meeting, trustees approved Wilson’s request to spend approximately $4,000 to send Tyler Collins to paramedic school. Tuition payment requires a two-year commitment to the department after he completes the course. Trustees agreed to pay $1,200 in tuition so Austin Bragg can get his firefighter 240 card.

Wilson’s request to pay points quarterly to volunteers rather annually in December was unanimously approved. Points are accumulated by making runs. The company budgets $10,000 each year for points awards and Franklin Township Trustees have been adding $1,000 a year to the pot for the last several years. Hart’s suggestion to add an additional $1,000 this year was unanimously approved.

Fiscal officer Jill Linn told Hart that the county auditor’s office projected $37,525.13 in local government fund revenue for the township this year. Governor John Kasich’s budget proposal would cut local government allocations by 50 percent in two stages – 25 percent in fiscal 2012 which starts July 1, 2011, and another 25 percent in fiscal 2012 which begins July 1, 2012.

Miller reported that the Amherst repaving project in Harbor Hills had been turned down for the third time for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant. He recommended putting it on the township’s road resurfacing project list. Miller isn’t sure where it will rank based on their decision to “do the worse first” until trustees complete their annual road inspections this spring. Cost is estimated at approximately $58,000.

Trustees returned Monday night to an issue addressed and then rescinded last December. Full- time employees receive 15 days of sick leave per year. Past practice had been to pay for any unused sick pay at the end of the year. The revised policy approved in December and then rescinded at the next meeting would end annual payments for unused sick leave and limit accumulated sick pay to 45 days. Any sick pay above 45 days would be lost.

The change doesn’t sit well with road supervisor Steve Patterson who told trustees he had missed just two days in his 17- year tenure with the township.

Miller asked to table it for two weeks to give him a chance to see how other townships handle sick pay. Hart agreed, but noted that “15 days is very reasonable sick pay.”

Miller said he was still waiting for some guidance from Jim Miller before proceeding with an effort to contract with a single hauler for residential waste collection. Commercial accounts would not be affected.

The key issues are how to handle Harbor Hills which has its own contract. Should it be excluded, would it become part of the district when its contract expires or could it decide on its own to join or not based on the township’s price? The other question is the impact on residents who have already paid for waste pickup this year.

“I don’t have the answers tonight,” Miller explained.

Trustees next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 18 at the Licking Fire Company Station No. 3 on Jacksontown Road (Ohio 13).

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