BOC VOTES TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE SHARE OF HEALTH INSURANCE

January 19, 2018

The hot topic of discussion at last night’s BOC meeting was employee health insurance, and the skyrocketing costs due to ACA (Obamacare) mandates.

Comm. Pennamon, Comm. Jernigan, Mike Benton, and Kelly Fox had a telephone conference at some point before the meeting and came up with the new plan.

Due to rising costs, the BOC voted to change the employee share of their health insurance cost. Instead of paying for 50% of dependent coverage as they have been, the employee will now pay for 55%. Instead of employees paying $30 per month for single coverage, they will now pay $60 per month.

Kelly Fox has repeatedly told the BOC over the past several years, that the ACA mandates would continue to raise health insurance costs. The words he used–“skyrocketing costs.” Reality has finally set in and Mr. Fox warned the BOC again last night, it is only going to get worse in the future.

Why is health insurance so high? The short answer is Obamacare.

The BOC voted to raise the employee’s share of cost and use the Cigna PPO, partially self-funded plan to save money.  This is now part of the FY19 County Budget.

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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CITIZENS KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE FY19 BUDGET BUT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO COMMENT ON IT THIS WEEK

June 17, 2018

As TWG has said before, “Public hearings are a total joke in this county.”

 

The BOC has another called meeting tomorrow night, June 18, about the FY19 Budget— Topic of discussion to include:  FY2019 Budget & Employee Health Insurance

JASPER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS  will have a CALLED MEETING on Monday, June 18th at 6:00 pm in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room – Ground Floor Ste. 16 – Jasper County Courthouse.   (There is no agenda posted on the BOC website as of 5PM 6/17/18.)

The BOC has already advertised for the public hearings for the FY19 budget, which will be held this Thursday, June 21 at 10:00am and 6:00pm.  But how can there be any public hearings when the public has never seen the final budget nor have they had an opportunity to review it?   The public copy of the budget has not been kept up to date, and trying to get any details from the county manager is a struggle.

At the BOC meeting this past Thursday, June 14, the health insurance figure was not finalized, but the figure being talked about was the “self-insured plan” with Cigna PPO of $700,000+.

Even without knowing the final budget figure, the BOC did agree to use the “roll-back” millage rate last Thursday and give 3% raises—but that figure  was still not included in the $10,406,545 budget.  Based on the handout from the meeting, the budget will be increased another 5% over last year or $365,298 plus $133,828 for wage increases.  For some reason the wage increases are added in separately on their own line item this year instead of by department.

As it stands now, it appears the FY19 Budget will be $10,540,373 and $372,119 more than expected revenues.  The BOC will take this overage out of “fund balance.”

Of note—debt payments will increase from $156,378 on the FY18 budget to $247,336 on the FY19 budget—at 58% increase.  Debt has increased steadily under this group of Commissioners for the past 6 years.  Debt now stands at $1,867,564, with $554,785 of this total being for Sheriff’s cars.

There is little doubt that these figures will change again tomorrow night, and the public will be even more clueless—just 2 days before the public hearing where the citizens are supposed to be able to voice their concerns or have their questions answered about the budget.  In the past, the BOC limited any comments to 3 minutes and did not answer any questions.  They had already set THEIR BUDGET and didn’t need any input from the citizens, whose only job is to pay for it all.  We have little doubt it will be any different this year.

 

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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COUNTY PROVIDED EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE—A HUGE BENEFIT TO EMPLOYEES AND A HUGE COST TO TAXPAYERS

June 12, 2018

How would you like to pay $32.50 per month or $390 per year for health insurance while your employer picked up the rest of the cost?  That’s exactly what happens if you are a Jasper County employee (or Commissioner).

 

During the budget hearings, the BOC heard from Kelly Fox, the insurance broker used by the county.  He told the BOC that there was a proposed 60% increase in premiums over the current Humana plan because, as usual, the county’s health insurance loss ratio was 101%.  (For many years the loss ratio has been over 100%.)

 


Currently the cost of health insurance is $423.12 per month for a single employee.  The employee pays $32.50.  The county (taxpayers) pick up the rest of the costs

The County’s share of health insurance for all participating employees, based on Mr. Fox’s presentation, is $542,508 per year.  With the proposed increase, the Humana cost would be $923,216 per year.

Humana is the lowest cost in the fully insured market, according to Mr. Fox.  He also said the BOC could do a “partially self-funded plan.”  This sounds disastrous to TWG, particularly if there was more than the usual 100% loss ratio.  There is no way to determine how much a self-funded plan would cost the county (taxpayers).

Based on what was said, “With a self-funded plan there would be a $160,000 increase and it would be on a totally different platform.”  We are not sure what that means, and we are not sure the commissioners understood it either.  Mr. Fox said he didn’t know what the cost would be with the “ABA (Cigna PPO) plan until the employees do a health survey.”  However, on the handout given to the BOC, the self-funded plan shows an annual cost of $702,579.

With this huge increase in premiums the BOC Chair suggested an increase in the employee share to $60 a month or $720/year.  Nothing was decided at the meeting, and Kelly Fox is to bring back more figures.  What cost figure the BOC will use for the budget is unknown.

In addition to this extra health insurance benefit, the BOC plans to give the employees a 3% salary increase at a cost of another $600,000+.

EXAMPLE:  Employee making $31,200 per year ($15/hour)

Salary    $31,200

Health insurance benefit – $4,800 ($400/mo or more) paid by county

6% retirement benefit – $1,872 (County adds 6% of salary to retirement plan annually)

Actual Salary + Benefits, not including life insurance, FICA, Medicare, Unemployment, etc.$37,872 

3% raise = $936——————>$38,808

 

EXAMPLE: Department heads make $50,000+

Salary  $50,000

Health insurance benefit – $4,800 ($400/mo or more) paid by county

6% retirement benefit – $3,000 (County adds 6% of salary to retirement plan annually)

Actual Salary + Benefits, not including life insurance, FICA, Medicare, Unemployment, etc. $57,480 

3% raise = $1500————–>$58,980

 

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

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THE COUNTY BUDGET IS THE COMMISSIONER’S BUDGET AND THEY DON’T NEED ANY CITIZEN INPUT

June 10, 2018

You may think the budget is boring and may want to ignore this blog, but the county budget determines your property tax, and some very interesting things are revealed in discussion —unintentionally—if you can stand to sit through the double talk and confusion.

The last two budget work sessions have had a lot of discussion with little actually finalized.  May 31 and again June 7 the BOC met to “work on” the budget.  Doug Luke did not attend the May 31st meeting, and Craig Salmon came in six minutes late. All commissioners attended the June 7 meeting.

At the beginning of the 6/7/18 meeting, Comm. Pennamon stated that this was the commissioner’s budget and there would be NO CITIZEN COMMENTS.

At the 5/31/18 meeting, the following was discussed, and it appeared to be decided upon….that is until the County Manager produced the “updated” budget pages on 6/7/18 with the same figures as before.  So all this was discussed again at the 6/718 meeting.

  • Increase in employee health insurance rates (this will be separate blog with details)
  • Magistrate Court—BOC discussed the proposed double dipping, increases in salaries, and overall budget increase. It was mentioned several times that Judge Lam said he did not have time to come and discuss his budget with the BOC.  (This will be a separate blog with details.)
  • Fire Rescue—New debt service is $72,876/year because Fire recently financed $332,021. Director Finch wants another $115,000 in capital outlay that the BOC cut back to $42,000 per year.  Fire/EMS still has budget over $1M per year.
  • Hospital will get taxes based on the “roll-back” rate.
  • Economic Development (DAJC) wanted a 10% increase over the previous year. Salmon asked, “What are we getting for our money?  What is the return on investment for the citizens?”  The 10% increase was cut 5/31/18, but was still showing on the budget pages 6/17/18.  (This will be a separate blog with details.)
  • Courthouse Security is to add another person and increase substantially. The courthouse will no longer be accessible without going through security each time you go inside.  (This will be a separate blog with details.)
  • 911 wants an increase of $20,985 because they say income is dropping from fewer landlines (at $1.50 per line).
  • Chamber of Commerce wants another $600 on top of their current budget. The BOC wanted justification, and the County Manager said the information submitted said “because they were doing such a good job.”
  • Debt service has continued to increase dramatically. At the 6/7/18 meeting, Mike Benton revealed that a balloon payment for $388,500 was coming due on a note for motograders bought 5 years ago.  The payments will now be $10,000 per month more than they were.  This additional payment had not been added into the budget.
  • After all this discussion, Comm. Jernigan said they must keep pay raises in budget. This has been his #1 priority, even saying “it has been a long time since the employees got raises.”  This is not true, because the employees got a 5% raise 2 years ago (if not last year).  There is some funny accounting going on with this because the BOC says they are taking pay raises out of the budget, but will “add back later.”  Whatever that means.

At the end of the 5/31/17 meeting, the BOC was asked by those in attendance if they could speak.  The BOC allowed it.  Charles Forsythe reminded the BOC that those on Social Security only got a 2% increase and the county budget was up by another 10% this year.  He said that the BOC “nitpicked around the edges” rather than making real cuts.

The BOC never likes criticism, so maybe this is why they decided they did not need any citizen comments at the 6/7/18 meeting.  The citizens are left out of the budget process altogether, except when it is time to fund everything.  Then the citizens are the ones to cough up the money, and most have no idea what all they are paying for.

 If you have ideas about where to cut the budget, contact your commissioners and let them know.  They meet again tomorrow night (6/11/18) at 6PM.

Commissioner Contact information—click link for email and telephone number:

District 1 – Carl Pennamon 
District 2 – Bruce Henry
District 3 – Don Jernigan
District 4 – Craig Salmon
District 5 – Doug Luke

 

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

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900 POUNDS OF TRASH DUMPED ALONG ROAD IN JASPER COUNTY BY NEWTON COUNTY BUSINESS

June 4, 2018


(This picture is a representation, and not the actual 900# of trash found in Jasper County.)

Code enforcement cases are heard in Magistrate Court every other Friday.  Last Friday, June 1, a case concerning illegal dumping was presented by the Solicitor, Stephen Morris.  He told Judge Lam that someone from C&B Auto Sales in Covington had dumped 900 pounds of trash on the side of a Jasper County road.

Based on Mr. Morris’ presentation, code enforcement had gone through the trash and several names were found.  Mr. Morris said they were not exactly sure which person was responsible, but they knew it was C&B Auto Sales.  Either one of the names found was the owner’s daughter, or she was in court to represent C&B Auto Sales.   She pleaded not guilty.  This is very significant.

By pleading not guilty, the case is taken out of Magistrate court jurisdiction and goes to Superior Court.  There is just one problem with thatthe county never appoints someone to present the case in Superior Court.  From what we have been told, the county attorney does not handle criminal cases; therefore, the BOC needs to request that the Solicitor, Mr. Morris, or some other attorney to present the case.

If the BOC does not follow through and appoint someone to prosecute the case, nothing ever happens, the case dies….and this has been going on for YEARS.  The commissioners have never bothered to find out what the outcome has been of any code enforcement case, or any other Magistrate case the county is involved in.  In approximately 2010, Comm. Mary Patrick presented a resolution that directed code enforcement to inform the BOC of the outcomes of any Magistrate case.  This resolution was approved by the BOC, but no one has ever followed through.

Commissioners, we do not need anyone, much less people from other counties, dumping in Jasper County.  The trash along our roads is already bad enough.  Please follow through with this case and have it prosecuted in Superior Court.

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in Code Enforcement, County, Magistrate | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

BOC WANTS MORE FREE STUFF—“DISCUSSING” GIVING THEMSELVES IPADS MONDAY NIGHT

June 2, 2018

The taxpayers now provide the BOC with free smartphones and almost free health insurance, along with life insurance, retirement, and training costs in addition to their pay.  Now they want the taxpayers to provide a “tablet” for their use?

Monday, June 4 at 6:00PM, the BOC will meet and discuss buying tablets (iPads), laptops and other portable devices for each commissioner… and probably the county manager, county clerk, finance director, and any other county employees that have cell phones we are paying for.

Will this make the commissioners smarter?  Will it get things done faster?  What will buying $??? of iPads, laptops, and/or other portable devices for each commissioner accomplish?

The BOC is discussing this now, so they can add it to the new budget.

The reaction when mentioning this idea to a few citizens is—“If they get one, I want one!!!!  Why should they have one, with my money, when I can’t afford one myself?”

You can contact the BOC and let them know how you feel about this new, additional expense.

Commissioner Contact information—click link for email and telephone number:

District 1 – Carl Pennamon 
District 2 – Bruce Henry
District 3 – Don Jernigan
District 4 – Craig Salmon
District 5 – Doug Luke

 

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in Budgets, County | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

500 ACRES OF JUNK—FOR OVER A DECADE

May 31, 2018

 The 500 acres at the intersection of Edwards Rd, Fellowship Church Rd. and Hwy 16 W has been an eyesore for over 10 years. (Yes, those are cows intermingled with all the junk!)

 On December 7, 2015,  Comm. Pennamon told the County Manager that he wanted Code Enforcement looking into Paul Spieks’ property on Edwards Road to see if it is up to code, to make sure fluids are not leaking, etc.  He wanted it investigated.  Shane Sealy has been in charge of that “investigation” since that time. 

For over 2 years now, Sealy has supposedly been investigating this “junk yard.”  On April 6, 2018, Magistrate Court heard “solid waste violation” case 2017X-046 against Paul Spieks.  What happened?  Magistrate Judge, Tim Lam, allowed 60 more days for Mr. Spieks, to clean up the property. 

After 10-15 years of piling up junk, do you really think that 60 days is going to make a difference? 

There will be another hearing this Friday, June 1, at 9:00AM in Magistrate Court concerning this case.

The neighbors, Comm. Pennamon, and anyone that drives by will be very interested in the outcome.

TWG

Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in Code Enforcement, Magistrate | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments