By Nick Worth
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved a revised employee benefits package Tuesday. Under the proposed medical plan, the county will pay $4,683,789 per year and the total cost of the plan will be $5,722,863.
District IV Supervisor David Tenney said he recognizes the economic conditions in the state require a change.
“I think this proposal does a pretty good job of letting us, as a county, be fiscally responsible and still provide benefits for our employees,” said Tenney.
He urged the board and the personnel team to continue to look into new ways to provide needed benefits for county employees. Tenney moved to approve the new benefit plan and the board passed it unanimously.
Under the new plan, employee contributions will increase for their core plan, which doesn’t have a Health Savings Account (HSA) attached to it. Also, the county will be decreasing its payments into the employees’ HSAs.
“We cut those HSA contributions substantially,” said Human Resources Director Kimberly Eavenson. “What we were contributing was generous by HSA standards and way above standard.”
She said Navajo County was contributing a higher percentage to the employees HSAs than was standard. By comparison, Coconino County has been contributing 55 percent to the HSAs of its employees.
“Some don’t contribute anything to HSAs,” Eavenson said. As an example, she said the county had been contributing $342 to the “employee plus family” with $1,500 deductible HSAs. From now on the county will drop its contribution to $177. For a single employee in the $1,500 deductible plan, the county paid $1,620 per year into the HSA, so that covered the deductible and there was no money out of the employee’s pocket.
According to Eavenson, in the $1,500 deductible plans, the only rise in the amount contributed by the employee will come from the single employees with no family. Under the new plan the county will contribute $851.40. The employee contribution for the year will be $660.
“On the $2,500 deductible plans, there is a slight three percent increase from last year, across the board,” Eavenson said.
She said the plan has not been presented to all the employees yet.
“On the week of April first through the fifth, we will go to each different department to explain it,” Eavenson said. She added the plan was discussed with the senior staff, as well as the Strategic Planning Team and the Personnel Commission, both of which are made up of county employees at all levels. Eavenson said both the Personnel Commission and the Strategic Planning Team OK’d the plan as the best for the employees and the county.
Eavenson said the senior staff and the two employee groups looked at two other options, one of which was a 6.5 percent increase of the current plan, which would have cost the county $400,000 more and meant a 14 percent cost increase for the employees.
“We’re not trying to hurt our employees at all,” Eavenson said. “We’re just looking for the best way to mitigate the cost for our employees and for the county.”
During the meeting District III Supervisor Sylvia Allen asked Eavenson why the plan needed to be approved at this meeting.
“Open enrollment begins on April 18,” Eavenson replied.
Eavenson later said the problem with waiting until the board’s April 9 meeting to present the plan for supervisor approval is that printed materials needed to be prepared, including rate sheets.
“We also have to get our rates and coordinate with our benefits management group in Phoenix,” Eavenson said. “We really could have taken it to them (the supervisors) on March 12, but we didn’t have all the rate information at that time.”
In other action March 26, the board:
* Heard an update from County Finance Director James Menlove, who told the board not much has changed in the county’s finances since last month’s meeting.
“The county’s sales tax revenue, since closure of the paper mill, continues to struggle,” said Menlove.
Tenney said he knows a number of fathers have left the area to seek work, which decreased the sales tax revenues. He added that after the school year is over, the mothers and children are going to move from the area, as well, which will again decrease the sales tax revenues.
“With the increase in state shared revenues we’re getting, will we still be in the black?” asked Tenney.
Menlove said the county is projected to be just over $20,000 in the black.
County Manager James Jayne said the department heads working together is what is helping the county stay within the budget. He recognized Menlove’s work and expressed the county’s gratitude.
* Adopted Resolution Number 08-13, approving the final plat for the Perkins Valley Estates, Phase I Subdivision.
* Adopted Resolution Number 09-13, approving the final plat for the Mesa Hills Estates, Phase I Subdivision.
* Named an existing road in the Shumway/Taylor area Slash Seven Road.
* Named an existing road in the Snowflake area Clear Pass Trail.
* Approved a letter of declaration regarding line of credit renewal.
* Approved a settlement agreement in ORC, LLC vs. Navajo County, giving the company a tax refund of $11,623.
Supervisor Allen asked what kind of business ORC is in, and Jayne replied that ORC has the Snow Creek Development in the Show Low area.
* Approved an amendment to the Bureau of Indian Affairs contract to hold juvenile detainees.
* Approved a proclamation declaring April 21-27, 2013, as Navajo County Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
* Heard a presentation for the 2013 Transforming Local Government Conference/Alliance for Innovation.
* Approved personnel actions.
* Approved an agreement with Consult-A-Doc for benefits for Navajo County employees for fiscal year 2013-14.
* Approved the official canvass of the special election conducted March 12 for the Sun Valley Fire District.
* Accepted three-tenths of a mile of El Dorado Road, south of the intersection of San Carlos Road and El Dorado Road, into the Navajo County Roadway Maintenance System.
* Approved task agreement No. 5 to the Memorandum of Agreement between the BIA, Navajo Region, Ft. Defiance Agency and Navajo County for an amount not to exceed $8,418.61 in District II Special Road Funds for the purchase and delivery of 1,800 gallons of diesel fuel.
* Approved the county’s participation with the White Mountain Regional Transportation Committee in contracting GK&J Communications at a cost of $5,000 as transportation liaison to represent the area in transportation issues.
Acting as the Navajo County Public Health Services District Board of Directors, the board:
* Approved a contract agreement with the National Association of County & City Health Officials for $11,000 for provision of Chronic Disease Self-Management Program services from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29.
* Approved a professional services agreement between the Navajo County Public Health Services District and Connie Baine, Registered Dental Hygienist, to complete services for the Regional Oral Health Coordinator contract with Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation from March 1, 2013, to Feb. 28, 2014.
* Approved a professional services agreement between the Navajo County Public Health Services District and Around the Mountain Pediatric Dentistry, PLCC to complete services for the Navajo/Apache First Things First Oral Health contract from March 1 to June 30.
* Approved a three-year contract with Amazing Charts for electronic medical records management in the amount of $26,470.
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By Nick Worth