BOC chooses hard cap insurance option

At their last meeting, the Clare County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation by Jennifer Martin from Cadillac Insurance, the company that presently provides health care insurance for County employees.  At their meeting on Wednesday, Commissioners had to make some decisions about how the current policy needed to change in order to be in compliance with PA152.

As the current plan is up for renewal on August 1st, the Board weighed their options. PA152, recently passed by the Michigan legislature, demands that all insurance for public employees now fall within three options:  a hard cap, 80/20 and to opt out.

If the Board chose to opt out – in other words, vote to keep their current coverage in place – Martin had told them that expenses passed down from Blue Cross would make their costs go up over 13 percent.  With a tight budget still looming for another year, Commissioners dismissed “opting out” as an option.  Even by choosing one of the other two options, the County will not realize much savings because, until contracts with the unions come up for negotiation, the only people affected by the insurance change will be elected officials and non-union employees.

After discussion, the Board voted unanimously to go with the recommendation Martin had made at their last meeting – the hard cap option, while also offering employees two Blue Cross Network HRA plans that would decrease their out-of-pocket expenses.

The hard cap option, as explained by Martin and attorney Dave Stoker, limits the County’s health care expenses to $15,000 per family (times the number of family policies), plus $11,000 per couple (times the number of two-person policies), plus $5,500 per individual (times the number of individual policies).

Any person, couple or family could spend over the limit for their group, if needed, as long as the County’s total expenses do not exceed the cap.

In other matters, the Board heard a presentation by Brian Anderson from Middle Michigan Development Corporation.  “I know that the County is like everyone – looking at potential cuts in tax revenue with the State policy changes…I know that now is around the time where you’re starting to look at next year’s budget and starting to make some hard decisions, so, to be very blunt, I’m here to try to preserve our funding levels,” Anderson said.

Anderson continued, “I hope that MMDC is viewed, first and foremost, as an opportunity to preserve a lot of the tax base within the threshold that we can.  I can’t turn around the legislature’s decisions to eliminate personal property tax collection, but we can make sure that the companies have all the opportunities available to stay and grow within Clare County – increase their square footage, increase their employment base.”     Anderson said, because MMDC saw so much potential for growth, “We are hoping to move a position full-time up to Clare County, and it will be a joint position with the local MI Works office down the street.  And we’ll bring a person here full-time – Kathy Methner – as a Clare County Director.”

Anderson added, “The reason why I’m really here to talk about the funding issue is that we can’t do this without some assurances that Clare County is still committed to funding Middle Michigan Development Corporation.”

To help underscore the significance of MMDC in the community, Rodney Loomis, President of Chemical Bank in Clare, and Kevin Humphreys, Director of Human Resources at Delfield, both spoke as to the importance of the services MMDC provides.  Humphreys told the Board, “From a business person’s point of view, they are one-stop.”

After the presentation, most of the Commissioners spoke in favor of retaining the relationship with MMDC.  Chairperson Don David concluded, “You probably don’t have too much to worry about.”

Rod Williams, Chair of the Planning Commission, came before the Board during the Committee of the Whole meeting to inquire as to the legality of enforcing the Street Naming and Numbering Ordinance throughout the County, due to safety factors involved in dispatching emergency vehicles to oddly numbered or duplicate-named streets.  Chairperson David said that it had been previously determined that the County had no authority to enforce the ordinance because not all the townships are zoned, and that adopting the ordinance had to be left to the townships.

Williams asked if he could contact Dave Stoker, the County’s attorney, for a legal opinion on the matter.  The Board agreed to allow Williams to pose his questions to Stoker, but to do so with Administrator Tracy Byard present.

In other business at Wednesday’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting:

*the Board set the next date for an Ad Hoc Committee meeting for August 9th at 1:00 p.m.

*was informed by Commissioner Jim Gelios that the Medical Control Authority Board was changing their membership from nine to 14 members.

*heard from Treasurer Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger that the auction books and lists are for sale in the Treasurer’s Office, at $35 and $6, respectively.  The list of auctioned properties can also be accessed online at tax-sale.info, and then click on Clare County.

*approved the use of the County Building parking lot for the next Community Nutrition Network food distribution on July 7th, starting at 10:00 a.m.

*approved the Senior Community Service Employment Worksite Agreement for the fiscal year, July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 for all SCSEP sites.

*approved the Broadband Network Group Intergovernmental contract between Clare County and Franklin Township, with the Board chair to sign.

*approved two Sheriff’s Department budget adjustments for support service fees and to pay the remainder of the MMRMA Rap Grant for the new camera system.

*approved the Sheriff’s Department request to apply for the MMRMA Rap Grant for Tasers.