By Tammy Gray
County employees who work less than 30 hours per week will no longer be eligible for health benefits under a revised personnel plan designed to bring the county’s policies in line with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. The board of supervisors approved the new policy on Tuesday.
Under the old personnel policy, the county offered health benefits to employees who worked more than 20 hours per week. Part-time employees hired prior to Jan. 1, who work more than 20 but less than 30 hours per week will retain existing benefits through the end of the fiscal year in June, but they will no longer be eligible for benefits after that time. The change is expected to affect five employees and save the county $43,751 in insurance costs. Those employees will retain their existing retirement benefits.
Under the new policy, employees who work more than 30, but less than 40 hours per week will be eligible for health insurance, as well as vacation and sick leave accrual on a pro-rated basis.
Board members also approved a new policy that eliminates accrual of sick or annual leave for employees who work less than 30 hours per week. The new policy also reduces the number of annual leave, or vacation, hours employees can carry over into the next year. In 2014, employees will be allowed to carry over 280 hours, and in following years, that total will be limited to 240 hours.
Human Resources Director Kim Eavenson noted that reducing the number of hours that can be carried over will limit the county’s financial liability for large payouts.
In addition to changing the amount of leave that can be carried over each year, the board also approved a policy limiting a cash payout for annual leave upon resignation or termination to a maximum of 240 hours, or 488 hours upon retirement.
In other action Jan. 28, the board:
* Accepted two Homeland Security grants, including a $45,483 grant for mobile computers to be placed in patrol vehicles and a $10,000 grant for handheld radios for the emergency operations team.
* Approved a contract with Maricopa County that authorizes the Navajo County Health Services District to use certain federal funds to vaccinate underinsured children.
* Approved the purchase of racks specially designed to hold the spreader boxes used by public works to maintain roads in the winter for an amount not to exceed $70,383.40.
Public Works Director Homero Vela explained that the spreader boxes are currently being stored on pallets and other temporary structures, and the racks will ensure the safety of staff as well as the spreaders.
* Proclaimed Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 2014, as Hashknife Pony Express week.
* Approved the renewal of professional services agreements with Debra Smalley for the family planning program, and with Mauriah Walker and Kristi Wahl for nursing services.
* Approved the renewal of an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services for a tuberculosis control program grant.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the county complex in Holbrook.
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By Tammy Gray