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Texas County To Save On Employee Health Insurance

By Faith Harper, Jacksonville Daily Progress, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 10--RUSK -- Cherokee County will save some money on providing its employees with heath insurance.

L.H. Crockett, county auditor, said the county currently pays $630.88 a month for each employee to have health insurance. At the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, the county will pay $624.56 per month for the same coverage.

Sidney Riley, human resource director, said the county has a total of 282 full-time employees who would qualify for insurance. Crocket said he estimates the lower price will save the county about $12,000 a year.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Katherine Pinotti said the savings are a result of the health habits of its employees.

"It's a co-op and we do have more purchasing power, but ( it is also) because of the wellness of the employees in that group, and Cherokee County's claims and things went down as well."

Crockett said the county gets its insurance through the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), who acts as a third party between the county and its insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The court also approved a proposal for actuary services on postemployment employee benefits on Monday.

Crockett said the actuary services are required by the Government Accounting Standards Board, which mandates how state agencies keep their financial books.

"They come out with pronouncements, it's kind of like a command, if you have post employment benefits (then you have to) have actuary service do a study and come up with potential liability," Crockett said.

Crockett said once an employee is eligible for retirement, they can opt to stay on the county's insurance plan, where the county would pay $400 a month and the employee picks up the rest.

"We don't have to show it as a liability per- say," Crockett said. "We do have to footnote it. In the footnotes it will say the county is obligated (for so much money) for so many years for post employment benefits."

The court also approved the annual road report from Pinotti. Crockett said the report is required by section 251.005 of the Texas Transportation Code, but there are no penalties for noncompliance, and often commissioners do not complete the reports. He said he uses the information to complete an annual report he has to submit to TxDOT.

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"If it said you would go to prison for 5 years by not doing it, I suspect things would be different but they aren't," he said.

Discussions also centered on updating the county's official road map. Pinotti said initially they were going to begin discussions in Precinct 2, which gained the most road miles as a result of redistricting. But, she said the court agreed that each commissioner should make a list and categorize roads in their county that either need to be added or removed from the map. She said this way, the court could address a select group at a time, making the process smoother.

Pinotti said she has private roads on the map that need to be removed and public ones that need to be added. Some were numbered incorrectly in the paperwork submitted for GPS devices, and some roads have the same numbers.

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(c)2012 the Jacksonville Daily Progress (Jacksonville, Texas)

Visit the Jacksonville Daily Progress (Jacksonville, Texas) at www.jacksonvilleprogress.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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