Skipping meetings may raise county insurance costs

By ED HOWELL
Posted 9/14/18

County Administrator Robbie Dickerson says county departments are not participating in safety and wellness meetings, which could mean major hits for the county budget in the future. The …

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Skipping meetings may raise county insurance costs

Posted

County Administrator Robbie Dickerson says county departments are not participating in safety and wellness meetings, which could mean major hits for the county budget in the future. 

The observation came at a budget work session the Walker County Commission held on Thursday. 

"As we plan wellness events next year, we need to make sure we have 80 percent participation. The last one was only 46 percent," she said. 

She worried that could lead to a drop from premium to standard levels, which would result in a $10 monthly increase for health insurance. "They said no, but if the next (meeting) is not at 80 percent, then we will be penalized for that. So the next wellness event needs to be as close to 100 percent as we can get so that we do not have another increase in our premium. That will take every department head helping us to make sure the staff gets there to a wellness event." 

District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis, who has been instrumental in the budget process, later said it needs to be stressed health insurance costs will go up if wellness meetings are not attended, and that the budget will be cut if workers comp claims also go up by not participating in safety programs, which Dickinson noted sometimes is a problem as well.

She said not attending could lead to more workers compensation claims, which, in turn, leads to higher chargers for coverage. 

Dickerson said the county's claims have decreased in the past two years. 

"The fair way of doing that is that the departments who don't participate, just cut their budget," Davis said. "My District 1 shouldn't be penalized for participating or the commission office shouldn't be penalized for participating. The department that doesn't participate should be penalized. The department heads should realize it is extremely important we should work together to save taxpayers dollars. There is no excuse for it. There is no excuse to have an extra charge and waste taxpayers dollars by not attending a safety meeting." 

The workers comp issue particularly affects the Sheriff's Office and the county jail, as they have extra travel they have to do, but they can also can get a certification and a rebate through a jailers association for fees to conventions to get training. 

Dickerson thanked Chairman Jerry Bishop for helping to lower automobile and liability coverage, which was streamlined for savings. She thanked District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt, who has helped negotiate down medical bills for inmates, and to Davis for his help on the overall budget. She also thanked Randy Dodd of the commission office for his help in working on the finances. 

Later in the meeting, officials noted "Premiums and Other" was cut by $160,000 due largely to the work on cutting the liability and motor vehicle insurance, as well as a cut to some legal costs. 

Over the course of the meeting, departments were thanked by officials for helping in keeping down costs over the past year.