With watchful eyes on the budget picture, Douglas County commissioners on Monday agreed to temporarily hold employee health insurance premiums flat for next year.
However, commissioners want to learn more about the county administration’s overall budget recommendations to see how the county budget could absorb the anticipated cost of $300,000 to $500,000.
“If we can do it, I intend to support that,” Commissioner Jim Flory said. “I would like to see more numbers before we take that second step.”
For 2009-2010, the county expects a 9 percent increase in health insurance costs. During the tough economic times, county leaders have also said it was unlikely that employees would receive any pay increases this year other than possibly a one-time payment, similar to a bonus.
Much of the discussion at Monday’s meeting about the health insurance policy centered around a recommendation from the county’s health insurance committee about the county’s budget absorbing the increase in premiums.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he was looking at a budget recommendation to place $300,000 in a health insurance reserve account to help cover the increased cost instead of spending that same amount for industrial lot development.
“I’m optimistic, but not promising, that we can fund this full amount without a mill levy increase,” Weinaug said.
The county administrator said the $300,000 budgeted last year as a one-time expense for industrial park development would not be enough to cover any items in that effort.
Commissioners agreed to keep the current premiums flat because the new health insurance plan takes effect June 1. They did leave the door open to revisit the issue during budget discussions. Employees could see their premiums increase later in the year.
Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners also unanimously extended water skiing times at Lone Star Lake from noon to 8 p.m. on Memorial Day next Monday and Labor Day on Sept. 7. The county will also allow skiing from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday in September.
The lake’s regulations already allow skiing from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday between June 1 and Labor Day.