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County puts budget decisions on hold

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

With two out of five members unable to attend, the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors Tuesday put on hold any major decisions affecting the county budget.

Board Chair Bill Lanphere was one of the first to put his foot against the door in making any major budget decisions. Lanphere did say, though, that a discussion of insurance and wages might be in order.

Lanphere noted two proposals on the table by the county Secondary Roads department. One was for an 8 percent raise for fiscal 2007 while the other was a 6 percent raise for two years.

While he didn't jump through any hoops for the one year, 8 percent raise, Lanphere didn't seem too excited about a two-year commitment on the Board's part either.

"Personally, I would be against a two-year commitment," Lanphere said. "We have to be aware of the ramifications between different departments in the county. Personally, I would be against the two-year decision."

Lanphere also suggested again that the county limit its share of insurance premium increases to twice the inflation index. Due to lower claims, the county dodged that bullet this year, with just a 3.8 percent increase in its insurance premiums.

Should insurance premiums take a higher hike, though, Lanphere suggested that the county pass the increase back to county employees, including single policy holders who currently receive 100 percent coverage from the country.

Supervisor Lorna Burnside noted that the county's rate was directly tied to claims, and could be impacted by an unavoidable accident or some other unforeseen event.

"We can't do it all," said Supervisor Jim Gustafson "We're going to have to balance it out."

One new consideration the Board asked its insurance carrier to review was the possibility of an employee-plus-one rate. While that rate would be lower, it appeared to be offset by a higher family rate. Another monkey wrench in the Board's budget planning was determining how many employees might opt to shift coverage, given different options.

"We've got to have all that data before we make a decision" that would affect the budget, Lanphere said.

"If this employee-plus-one is going to save the employee some money and the county money then we should do it," said Supervisor Jim Gustafson.

The Board agreed to have department heads meet 10 a.m. Friday to assess what changes their employees might make in their coverage to assist the Board in its budget plans.



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