Thursday, October 25, 2012

Employee Health Care Benefits, Countywide Official Compensation, 2013 County Budget Passed

Go Tigers! It is 0-0 as I write this and I am hopeful for a game 2 win!

This week, we had a relatively short meeting. We considered the resolution I mentioned last week setting the health care provider for union employees. The Ingham County Health Care Coalition, who is a coalition of the various employee groups and unions, investigated various plan designs and options for the County’s health care plan for 2013. After finishing it’s review, the Health Care Coalition recommended a small change in the prescription benefit.

The Coalition also reviewed a proposal by the Controller and County Commission that would switch from PHP to Blue Cross Bliue Shield and eliminate the high cost plan, which would save the County $500,000 per year while not costing the employees any money. The proposal would establish a trust funded with $300,000 per year that would offset any employee’s potential increase in out of pocket costs for co-pays and deductibles. The employees that would switch from the high cost to the standard plan would experience substantial savings in premium costs. Additionally, the employee’s out of pocket costs would be capped at an amount equal to their premium savings and the difference between the total out of pocket costs would be paid for out of the trust. The benchmark used to determine the employee’s contribution rate is recommended to increase 2% from the amount used in 2012 in accordance with historical practice.

Unfortunately, the Health Care Coalition rejected this plan and did not authorize the
proposed changes in health care for 2013, so it seems that we will maintain the status quo. The Coalition met once and rejected the proposal, then met again at the request of the county and again rejected the proposal. As such, unless the Coalition position changes, we will authorize Letters of Understanding with all of the collective bargaining units to accept the proposal from Physicians Health Plan of Mid-Michigan. The County will provide the same health insurance benefits to the
Managerial and Confidential Employees effective January 1, 2013.

We next considered compensation for Countywide Elected Officials (excluding judges). I discussed this last week. The resolution proposed to keep the compensation for the countywide officials in 2013 and 2014 the same as it was in 2012. Commissioner Dougan asked to divide out the County Clerk from the rest of the countywide officials. We unanimously approved the compensation for the Sheriff, Register of Deeds, Treasurer, Drain Commissioner, and Prosecutor. In the vote on the Clerk, Dougan complimented current clerk Mike Bryanton, who has served for 18 years and has done an excellent job. Dougan argued that the successor Clerk should not have same salary. He moved to amend to reduce the Clerk's salary by $6,000 to be equal to the Drain Commissioner and Register of Deeds. Commissioner Holman objected saying that this is the compensation for the job regardless of the person there. Commissioner Nolan said that the countywides have are receiving no raises for the next two years and haven't had raises for a while. U argued that the person coming in will have the same duties and responsibilities, and will also need to learn the intricacies of the job so they deserve the same compensation as the existing compensation. The amendment failed 3-11 (the three GOP there voted for it). The final resolution for the Clerk passed 13-1 (dougan voted no).

Finally, we considered the 2013 General Appropriations Resolution (the Budget for the 2013 calendar year). Commissioner Grebner, the Finance Chair, mentioned that there is a good summary of the budget in the budget document (which can be found at and that people can review the summary for the details
of the budged. He said the Controller was able to preserve the county's cautious fiscal approach, maintains the reserves by not drawing down at an alarming rate, preserves almost all services expected by the county citizens, keeps long term commitments to employees, cuts costs, does things that cost less and bring in more money, and reforms the pension system. All this done with less money from state, less in interest earnings, reduced property tax values. There were no angry mobs or people asking us to reverse a decision. The budget maintains the progressive innovative workings of Ingham County. No one was treated unfairly, and the pain was equally shared. The resolution passed unanimously.

My campaign for State Representative is now in the home stretch. Twelve more days. I am excited and exhausted and ready for the campaign to be over. I will try to do a preview of the races and give my thoughts on each one, if I have time. If not, please feel free to email me for my thoughts on any of the races. 517-618-1666. Thanks again for everyone's support!

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