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Council says good-bye to two members


Also talks with county commissioners about insurance


December 17, 2008
The last Crawford County Council meeting of the year, on Dec. 9, included a touch of melancholy as two outgoing council members were honored with a cake and refreshments, handshakes and many thanks for their service. The session also included a joint meeting with the county commissioners to discuss health insurance plans for county employees.

"I want to honor two councilmen tonight — Dan Crecelius and Jim Elliott," Council President Jerry Brewer said. "Jim and Dan have really made a difference in the county and have been great public servants. Crawford County is indebted to both of you."

"I appreciate all you guys did," Sheriff Tim Wilkerson added. "You'll really be missed."

Crecelius lost his seat in a close race in this fall's election and Elliott decided not to run for the position again.

"I've been on the council for 12 years," Crecelius said. "I feel like we were able to accomplish a lot during that time. The only thing I regret not being able to get done is to get a 24-hour health care center in the county. We got real close, but just couldn't follow through with it. But it's been a pleasure and an honor to serve the county."

Elliott, who served four years, echoed the same feelings about being on the board.

"I've really enjoyed it," he said. "I feel like I've been able to make a difference on what came to the table. And I'll always continue to work for the county. I still have a lot of faith in the council, and I'll help the new council members anyway I can. I feel that I've been able to have input with what I know, and I enjoyed working with the other council members. I really enjoyed every meeting."

The council meeting itself included a small agenda, wrapping up the year by approving a request from Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow for an additional $63 toward the purchase of a new weather station, discussing a back-up water supply option for the Blue River Water District, and tabling a request from Richard White, E-911 supervisor, to install a new entrance door into the dispatchers area.

The council then adjourned, and after a short break, opened a joint meeting with the three county commissioners to discuss health insurance options for county employees. Several options were discussed, but each included an increase either in premiums or deductibles.

A 15-percent increase in insurance cost was anticipated and budgeted, but the increase would be 31.6 percent if county employees keep the present plan.

"We got our 2009 rates," Larry Bye, president of the board of commissioners, said. "And there's going to be a 31.6-percent increase. We know there's already a 15-percent increase in the budget, but we need to know what the council will be able to fund next year, what they can stand budget-wise. We're going to need to ask the employees to pay more."

Brett Busick, whose company handles the county's insurance plan through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said the county has had more than $1 million in claims this year, but has only paid a little over $700,000 in premiums, a difference of more than $300,000. That difference, he said, set things up for an increase in premiums next year.

Several plans were discussed, and the confusion increased as more options were added to the mix. There were discussions about increased premiums versus increased deductibles, then the cost of prescription drugs was figured into those options, making it difficult to evaluate the value of each plan.

However, after about an hour of debate and ideas, the commissioners sat down at the table, got out their pencils, and considered all the available information. After doing some tire-kicking and head-scratching, they were able to agree on a new plan that would include an increase of cost to the county of about 5 percent.

"Actually, there's two options," Bye said. "The employees can stay with the current plan, but it would cost them an additional 11.6 percent.

"With the other plan, the deductible would go from $500 to $1,500 for a single plan and from $1,000 to $3,000 for a family plan. That is if they stay within the network. With this plan, the maximum out-of-pocket would increase from $1,000 to $3,000 for a single plan and from $2,000 to $6,000 for a family plan. The co-pays on prescription cards would go from $10, $20 and $30 to $10, $25 and $40."

Bye also said that it could take up to 20 percent of county employee participation to keep the old plan.

"We plan to schedule a meeting with Mr. Busick and the county employees sometime this week," Bye said on Monday. "We don't have a set time yet, but we'll notify the department heads as soon as something is set up. The employees will have until the end of the week to decide which plan they want."

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