Justin Kroegar, Gallagher/insurance, risk management, and consulting, presented two options for employee health insurance to the Fillmore County board at their September 7 meeting.
The county buys insurance through the Minnesota Healthcare Consortium. Kroegar recommended sticking with the Southeast Service Corporation and changing from Blue Cross to Medica.
A 2.5% increase in premiums was negotiated for 2022. With the Medica plan every employee would regain access to Mayo Clinic. There will be a single plan for everyone. Last year with Blue Cross only some employees chose to keep Mayo Clinic in their network. The Blue Cross plan would maintain that split, as one plan design would exclude Mayo Clinic access.
Both committees that looked at the options also recommended changing to Medica. A motion was approved to stick with the Southeast Service Corporation and to go with the Medica plan as recommended by Kroegar.
Lindsi Engle, Human Resources, asked about outsourcing the paperwork for COBRA and retirement from the end of employment forward. The basic fee is minimal and the vendor takes on any liability. A motion was approved to initiate a contract with Medsurety for COBRA and retiree outsourcing.
Build Back Better Regional Challenge
Chris Hahn, EDA, reviewed information in regards to the EDA: American Rescue Plan program to help local economies. The federal program will provide about $1 billion to invest in 20-30 regions across the country that want to revitalize their economies. It is a two phase program. The board approved the Fillmore County EDA’s participation in the initial feasibility and planning process for a potential regional coalition (in coordination with industry and community partners) application to the federal EDA. The application deadline for Phase I is October 19.
The project region includes Dodge, Fillmore, Mower, Olmsted, and Wabasha Counties.
Fifty to 60 regional coalitions will be awarded $500,000 in technical assistance funds to support three to eight projects to grow their region. Only 20-30 of the regional coalitions will be awarded $25 million to $75 million to implement those projects.
Other business in brief
• A resolution was approved authorizing acceptance and execution of Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program. A total of $1,251,800 is awarded for the grant term of October 1 through September 30, 2023. All partners have served about 417 households for the current biennium in 11 counties to prevent and eliminate homelessness.
• Tim Penny, president and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), noted SMIF has served served 20 southeast Minnesota counties for 35 years. For every dollar donated by Fillmore County, $30 has been invested back into Fillmore County communities. SMIF concentrates on early childhood initiatives, small business startups, and small town programs. Due to COVID a great deal of SMIF’s efforts were directed toward providing emergency grants for childcare providers and the distribution of state and federal grants to businesses.
Penny thanked the board for their past support. Ten percent of SMIF’s annual budget comes from local donations.
• The purchase of 30 additional chairs at a cost of $14,905.50 and one stool chair at a cost of $623.25 for Public Health was approved, using grant funding.
Jessica Erickson, director of nursing, reported that COVID cases in the county continue to increase; 156 in the month of August.
The possible purchase of temperature systems that could measure employees and members of the public’s temperature as they come into the courthouse or the office building was discussed. Erickson was asked to gather more information on this equipment.
Bonita Underbakke, during the Citizen’s Input portion of the meeting, questioned the value of this equipment. Not all fevers are due to something contagious. She suggested it would be more effective to just require masking in county buildings.
• The 2022 Community Services budgets including Public Health, Social Services and Local Collaborative, and Veteran Services were reviewed. Erickson noted Public Health’s budget of $446,357 is about $14,000 less than last year’s budget. Diane Olson, lead fiscal officer, reported that the Social Services budget actual increase for 2022 is estimated to be about $6,500. Jason Marquardt, veterans services officer, noted the biggest expenses are salaries and insurance.
• A resolution was approved setting the current market value for the disposal of Municipal Solid Waste at $81.67 per ton.
• Darrell Schmitt, Highway Department, requested the surface reconditioning project for CSAH 30 (to Niagara Cave) be moved into the year 2022 and the surface reconditioning project for CSAH 2 be moved into the year 2024. The plan change was approved as requested.
Weed spraying on the south half of the county this fall using unallocated funds and other monies in the Highway Department was approved. This wasn’t budgeted. Commissioner Duane Bakke explained the spraying is for wild parsnip, but also for thistles and other noxious weeds that the county is charged with controlling. Commissioner Mitch Lentz said if a property owner puts up a “do not spray” sign, it should be registered with the county and the property owner has the responsibility to control noxious weeds.
During the Citizens Input portion, Loni Kemp expressed her concerns about roadside spraying. It is a big expense, causes environmental harm, is a waste where weeds are not present, kills other broad leaf plants, could leach into the ground water, and is a futile effort. She insisted wild parsnips will never be eradicated.
• An agreement with the owners of Thompson Pit for a two-year contract to continue to obtain winter sand for use on county roads was approved.
• A request to hire a temporary part-time up to full-time building maintenance position to cover a current employee’s leave of absence was approved. This will likely be for a minimum of four to six weeks.
• The appointments of John Zanmiller and Tom Mosher to the Community Corrections Task Force (at-large and District 1 seats) were approved.