County beefs up insurance fund

Lisa Hammer

 Henry County is kicking in an extra $100,000 for its self-funded health insurance program it was announced at the Henry County Board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 14. The fund is down to $54,000. It has been as low as $8,000 in the past, before other large cash infusions. 

 The county likes to maintain a balance of at least $700,000 for the 274 county employees covered by the plan.

 Board member Marvin Gradert asked administration committee chairman Tom Steele, who made the recommendation, what he was doing to prevent another such move in the future.

 “I suspect if I had an answer to this problem, someone would escalate me to national importance,” Steele retorted.

 He said although all departments have the extra funds, they would all rather be spending it on something besides additional health insurance costs. The county had a 12 percent increase in insurance costs this year, compared to 10 percent for the last several years. 

 A sum of $54,000 will come from the county’s general fund; Hillcrest Home will pay another $23,000; the health department $13,000; the highway department $8,000; Orion police $1,200 and E-911 and Cambridge police $400 each.

 The county pays 100 percent of single individual health insurance, which is approximately $174 per two-week pay period; however the employees pay 10 percent of the county’s payment in an effort to boost reserves and cover major medical as well as dental. The fund has still fallen short.

 According to a tentative draft of the tax levy for property taxes payable in 2009, the county will ask for 4.95 percent more to be spread among an estimated $22 million increase in total equalized assessed valuation.

 Election expenses are excluded for purposes of comparison. They are an estimated $413,181 this year and $264,723 next year, and with the election expenses included, the levy is rising by $144,373 or 2.28 percent.

 The county voted 16-5 to transfer authority for animal control from the sheriff’s department back to the county board and its public safety committee.

 The board also:

 • Hired Whitt Law of Aurora to represent the county in Pioneer Hybrids’ appeal of its 2007 property taxes before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

 • Approved a resolution supporting continued operation of the Hennepin Canal Parkway.

 • Learned the county will pay an increase of $10.77 per ton for road salt, rising to $53.87, but less than a neighboring county that will pay $130 per ton for this winter.

 • Set next month’s meeting date for 6 p.m. Nov. 18 because the usual meeting would have fallen on Veterans Day.