Commissioners deny health insurance hike split change

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners on Tuesday denied a change in the county’s group insurance plan, recommended by the county’s a Personnel Policy Committee, that would have changed the split on group health insurance rate increases between the County and its employees from 50/50 to 75/25.

Under the recommendation, the County would have paid 75 percent of group health insurance cost increases, starting Jan. 1, 2015

Personnel policy changes and budget call-back items were given only preliminary approval Tuesday. They are subject to final approval at a December board meeting.

“We have worked significantly hard on this over my 15 years on the board. I can’t support it (health insurance raise split change),” said Commissioner Richard Seeboth, regarding health insurance rate increase cost splits.

“Many employees are having financial issues covering medical insurance costs,” Brown County Human Resources Director Mike Furth said.

“It’s a big jump. I’d rather deal with the salary side of it,” said Commissioner Dennis Potter.

The commissioners’ vote was unanimous.

Commissioners approved:

Adopting a Medical Emergency Leave Bank policy allowing county employees to help one another in times of extraordinary need by donating leave time and comply with IRS guidelines.

Tabling adding one hour per month to the vacation accrual rate until salary adjustment committee work is done.

Clarifying what becomes of accrued vacation, sick and comp time when Brown County employment ends. Accrued vacation balance would be paid out as severance pay, according to the RBA.

For employees in a county-recognized Health Care Savings Plan, accrued vacation, unused comp bank hours, and unused sick leave due as severance pay, upon employment termination, shall be deposited into the employee’s Post Employment/Retirement Health Care Savings Plan. Terminating employees must consult Human Resources about PERA refunds and continuation or termination of group life and medical insurance policies, according to the RBA.

Regular and training phase full-time employees accrue sick leave at eight hours for each month of service. Any abuse of sick leave shall be strictly forbidden. Department heads and/or Human Resources Directors reserve the right to deal with offenders as they see fit, according to the RBA.

Purchasing nine defibrillators to replace existing defibrillators after Jan. 1, 2014, if existing prices remain the same, to save paying about $1,000 in sales tax.

A New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Foundation grant would pay for half of the $12,951.90 (state contract) cost or up to $6,400 for nine Philips FRx defibrillators. The Brown County Sheriff’s Office would pay the other half of the cost, according to the Request for Board Action (RBA).

The defibrillators would replace Medtronic Lifespan 500 models made in 2000. Eight of the new defibrillators would be placed in deputy squad (cars). The other would go to the Brown County Jail, according to the RBA.

Accepting a 2014 Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety Crime Victim Services Grant Agreement, effective from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014 to support the general crime victim program at the Brown County Probation Dept. The $35,000 grant pays the 27 hours a week wages for Crime Victim Advocate Bernie Epper, according to the RBA.

Authorizing a letter of support for funding the local Underage Substance Abuse Coalition (USAC) to be sent to Congressman Tim Walz and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. The letter expressed concern about the de-funding several five-year Drug Free Community (DFC) grantees, including Brown County, according to the RBA.

“Though we have made successful strides at reducing alcohol consumption, we are now faced with the increasing issue of legalizing marijuana, and the increasing use of prescription medication and tobacco,” the letter read.

Call-back items in the draft 2014 county budget. Probation items include $18,000 for Juvenile Drug Court Mentoring and $16,775 for supervision small equipment including a $3,500 ARMER radio; Highway Dept. snow-plow truck and equipment replacement; adjusting probation agent salaries subject to final state adoption scale; Family Services Director Tom Henderson’s suggested revisions to the Fund 11 budget; adjusting health insurance benefit costs in all departments pending acceptance of 2014 health insurance bid; and variable contingency line items.

A request to renew 2014 health insurance rates was withdrawn. It will be considered at the Oct. 15, 2013 board meeting.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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