County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Thursday morning presented a $197.4 million no-tax-increase budget to the County Commission that includes no employee pay increases and a step down from the current "Cadillac" insurance plan.
He said recent new county employees have been placed on a co-insurance plan, while longer term employees were on a more lucrative co-pay plan. He said all will be shifted to co-insurance.
County Mayor Coppinger said employees would not notice much difference in doctor visits, but would be on an 80/20 plan for more serious health treatment.
He said under the Affordable Health Care Plan if the county stayed with its "Cadillac" plan it would be penalized starting in 2018.
He said the new plan "is still good. It's better than the normal plan in the public sector."
County Mayor Coppinger said it will still be necessary to take $3.7 million from the $107.7 million county fund balance to cover rising insurance costs. The new fund balance (rainy day fund) stands at $104 million.
There are no new hires in the budget except for three that were mandated by the state to bring the medical examiner's officer up to standard. It will be getting two new investigators and another office employee. The rise in that budget is $218,399.
A Crisis Intervention Team members at the sheriff's office will be retained, though a grant to cover that cost is running out. However, a position is being eliminated in public works.
County Mayor Coppinger said Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell is keeping $400,000 in her excess fees accounts. Commissioner Joe Graham said he understood this was being used for employee raises. He asked what would happen when the excess fees run out. Officials said Ms. Tidwell would have to come back to the commission to ask for more money.
County Mayor Coppinger praised County Clerk Bill Knowles for turning over an additional $600,000 in excess fees and Register of Deeds Pam Hurst and Trustee Bill Hullander $300,000 additional each.
He said there is about one percent growth in the property tax, yielding about $1.7 million in new revenue. He said the excess fees were up nine percent.
The sheriff's budget is being cut by $300,000 despite a request for a large increase. The county mayor said the budget includes money for 30 new patrol cars and for equipping them and providing new radios. The sheriff will make up the $300,000 through the sheriff's fund balance.
The amount going to debt service is up $4.1 million. That is due to a $41.5 million bond issue and $23 million for new schools.
The assessor's budget is down by $767,288 because the recent reappraisal is finished.