County goes with new company for liability insurance
Commonwealth Journal (Somerset, KY)
Sept. 30--Faced with federal lawsuits both pending and recently settled, Pulaski County Fiscal Court opted Tuesday for a new company to provide its liability insurance.
Allen Crawford of Reed Brothers Insurance -- which serves as agent of record for the county's liability, workers' compensation and cyber liability -- presented liability proposals from OneBeacon and Brit Global.
OneBeacon Insurance covered the county last year for $538,718.38 with Crawford saying this year's coverage would increase to $610,522. He noted that the optional quote for comparable coverage came to $501,507.
"There are some differences in coverage on the optional quote," Crawford explained. "You can't ever get an 'apples to apples' quote on those, but not much difference at all."
County Attorney Martin Hatfield prefaced his comments by noting he didn't vote on the court, but expressed disappointment that OneBeacon had declined to defend him when he was sued by the Association of American Railroads in federal court over his office's prosecution of Norfolk Southern Railroad for blocking local crossings.
While AAR isn't seeking damages, just injunctive relief to prohibit local prosecution, the case is still pending and Hatfield said he's racked up $14,000 bill for legal fees that the county has agreed to pick up.
"I feel like it should have been the burden of the insurance company to shoulder," Hatfield said, "not our taxpayers."
Meanwhile, his counterpart in McCreary County is having his defense costs covered through KACo (Kentucky Association of Counties).
Crawford said that OneBeacon had never offered non-monetary loss coverage, nor did Travelers, but Brit Global offers a small amount. "When we have shopped the market, we've looked for additional coverage there," he added.
Hatfield argued there is monetary loss with the suit. "This court's having to pick up for it," he said. "I understand if there's no coverage but I also understand KACo covered."
The county attorney went on to say that the organization had contacted him and would have allowed Pulaski County to be represented along with McCreary by their attorneys had they been advised sooner.
"I'm not promoting changing anything," Hatfield concluded. "I'm just stating facts....Maybe that is something that can be negotiated in the next contract because there are lawsuits involving declarations and seeking injunctive relief for us doing our jobs. Those should be covered by any insurance company that's going to cover public servants."
District 2 Magistrate Mike Wilson made the motion to go with the lower option, seconded by District 5 Magistrate Mike Strunk and approved unanimously.
The county also opted for a lower premium on cyber liability -- from $4,958 with OneBeacon to $1,698.85 with BCS Insurance.
The county got some brighter news regarding workers' compensation through KEMI (Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance), which reduced premiums from $195,915 down to $192,542 due to "better claims." That contact was approved with a motion from District 3 Magistrate Jimmy Wheeldon and a second from District 1 Magistrate Jason Turpen.
Magistrates also approved Neikirk Insurance as the county's agent of record for health coverage. Bill Neikirk noted that over the past three year's, the county had enjoyed two rate holds and even a four-percent reduction. However due to a large number of claims, this year's rates are going up an average of 11 percent to keep the same coverage.
Judge-Executive Steve Kelley questioned Neikirk about the family plan increase appearing more than 11 percent. While he acknowledged not figuring that specific increase, Neikirk said that many companies will raise the group rate then vary each plan; with most costs coming through individual, the companies try to keep those rates lower.
County Treasurer Joan Isaacs said that she assumes an insurance increase when budgeting each year. "We've been burned by not doing that in the past," she said.
As both Neikirk and Crawford had needed the court to vote that day, District 4 Magistrate Glenn Maxey asked if there was a way to get the proposals sooner. Crawford suggested an insurance committee.
In other business, fiscal court:
--accepted the sole bid for demolition of the old Shopville Road bridge and installation of the new structure. JC Tucker Concrete bid $231,400 which, along with the price of a separately bid superstructure, will be submitted to the state for reimbursement through the 80/20 program. According to Deputy Judge-Executive Dan Price, the county's 20-percent match will come from the road department providing gravel, erosion control and guard rails for the project.
--approved the appointment of Donna McFall to the Pulaski County Public Library Board of Directors following the resignation of Jo Lisa Way.
--approved Riley Haynes, Kyle Smith and Patricia Wilhelm as part-time employees at the Pulaski County Recycling Center as well as mowing a property on Mark Street.
--surplussed a 2008 Chevrolet Impala on behalf of the Special Response Team.
--approved advertising for a part-time employee at the Pulaski County Animal Shelter.
--heard from Eubank resident Valerie Webb, who is seeking four-way stops at two intersections on West Ridge Road.
--observed a moment of silence in honor of former Judge-Executive Barty Bullock's family. His mother passed away Sunday, September 23.
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