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County employee health screening

Fri, May 29th, 2009
Posted in Government

Health Educator Brenda Pohlman informed the board at their May 26 meeting as to the results of the employee health screening. This is the third year participating employees have been screened for vision, hearing, flexibility, body mass index, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol. Employees have the option of participating in all, some or none of the tests.

Pohlman suggested year to year the same employees get tested. Some have been made aware of areas needing improvement in previous years and have improved. She was most concerned about cholesterol and glucose levels. About 27% showed high glucose levels which makes them pre-diabetic. Chairman Chuck Amunrud remarked diabetic employees lead to higher insurance rates.

Twenty men and forty-five women were screened. About 55% had high blood pressure. Only nineteen employees were screened for body mass index and twelve of them were deemed overweight or obese. Sixty-two employees were screened for cholesterol and 22% had high cholesterol.

Pohlman recommended employees use preventative services available through their health insurance to improve hearing and vision. Information is provided to improve cholesterol ratios and the importance of exercise, nutrition and weight loss are emphasized. Symptoms of diabetes are detailed for employees.

AMC Steering Committee, State Budget

Commissioner Duane Bakke reported on discussions at the Association of Minnesota Counties Board of Directors Steering Committee related to the state budget and Governor Tim Pawlenty's declaration that he would use his powers of line item veto and unallocation authority to balance the budget. Bakke noted the state budget remains 2.9 billion out of balance.

Bakke says a 3.9% levy increase limit was imposed for local governments last year and he expects this year there could be a 1.5% levy increase limit increase imposed by the state. County leaders want to maintain as much flexibility as possible. The governor has requested input from county leaders and others. Bakke suggests the governor is setting them up for a fight, rural counties against cities on transportation spending, for example.

DFL legislators claim they did their job sending the governor a bill with a balanced budget including a tax increase. The governor vetoed the bill saying the legislators failed to do their job because they didn't balance the budget without a tax increase. Pawlenty has encouraged counties and cities to use their reserves in these times of recession. Auditors recommend local governments maintain 45% in reserves. Commissioner Randy Dahl remarked that the governor is telling us to go against recommended fiscal practice.

Amunrud questioned whether the courts will need to decide if the unallotment authority is being misused if used at the beginning of a budget cycle rather than to shore up a shortfall in the last couple of months of a budget cycle, which many believe was the only intended use of the emergency unallotment authority.

Bakke maintained the county is responsible for mandated services, as a result they will be forced to cut other services and renegotiate salaries. He noted the greatest share of mandated social services are for the elderly or handicapped people. Bakke claimed Fillmore County had prepared itself for the 2009 unallotment when the budget was set for the year. For example, no new equipment will be purchased for the highway department. Basically, they will need to freeze the 2010 budget to 2009 levels if possible.

Bakke says the governor will first have to sign all the appropriation bills passed by the legislature and then take them apart using his line item veto and unallotment authority sometime after July 1. It could be argued that by signing the appropriation bills, the governor is in essence approving increased revenue.

Amunrud said the terms redesign and unallotment should not be in the same paragraph. The counties have been working for a redesigning of government, to make it more efficient, more flexible, and more transparent. Dahl added, "Redesign offers a better outcome with the same expenditure." Counties want to self organize or do what is most efficient, as one size does not fit all.

Other Business In Brief

• Jeffrey Cooper, Information Systems, explained the destruction of the UPS when there was a power loss in the area that serves the Office Building. The UPS is needed for backup power for the servers when there is a power loss. Cooper said a larger capacity unit is needed. He recommended installing two units to have adequate protection for the system. The total cost including electrical work for the upgrade and replacement will be $18,561. Insurance is expected to cover about half of that cost. The purchase and installation was approved.

• Ditches along Highway 16 west of Preston will soon be sprayed to control Wild Parsnip. Eight thousand dollars have been budgeted in 2009 for weed control. Bakke noted this would probably be one unmandated service that will need to be eliminated with budget cuts.

• Sheriff Daryl Jensen along with police chiefs, fire chiefs, ambulance directors and Commissioner Tom Kaase participated in an Radio Board meeting discussing the state's 800 MHz system and narrow banding. A study is being done to see how much coverage Fillmore County will get with 800 MHz and at what cost. Jensen says narrow banding is not an option for the county.

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