MOUNT VERNON — After the county entertained competitive bids from several other potential insurance providers, incumbent supplier Medical Benefits Administrators (commonly known as MedBen) sharpened their pencils to retain the county’s business. The Knox County Board of Commissioners announced Monday that a two-year renewal was being awarded to the insurance company, which made a proposal holding the line on costs despite the recent volatility of the economy.
The MedBen proposal features no increase in administrative costs for the two year period, though it remains to be seen how medical costs do over the period. For at least the 2010 calendar year, though, this agreement makes it possible for county employees to see no change in costs, with no increase in premiums.
After discussion, the commissioners, Auditor Jonette Curry and health benefits coordinator Holly Thompson agreed to watch the costs of dental coverage closely this year, without raising rates, to try and get by without further expense. The dental coverage is forecast to go up next year. Vision coverage was proposed with a two-year guaranteed rate, and was approved.
Discussion was also held regarding the county’s Wellness Program, which the commissioners recently renewed for 2010. Curry said that she was puzzled by this, as the Wellness Committee’s recommendation was to discontinue the program. The commissioners said that there may have been some confusion there regarding what the committee wanted and how it was presented to the commissioners. Curry said that if the program does indeed continue, that she and Thompson will not serve on the Wellness Committee.
In other business, Matthew Kurtz was in for his regular visit with the commissioners as representative of the Knox County Department of Job and Family Services.
“It’s been a nice, low-tension transition,” Kurtz said, referring to his taking over as interim director from the retired Roger Shooter. “I think we’ve got a handle on where we want to go.” He said that crews of people receiving public assistance were doing renovation work on empty offices in KCDJFS. Kurtz said that the department currently staffs 82 full-time equivalencies, which he described as a minimum, requiring administrators to cover telephones and lobby windows. He estimated a better level as being at 86 full-time employees, but said he realizes that won’t be possible until the budget picture improves.
Bud Krutsch and Darell Severns from the Regional Planning Commission visited the commissioners to clarify where certified, but not yet appropriated, money for the RPC from the general fund goes. Commissioners clerk Rochelle Shackle explained that the RPC’s money doesn’t blend back into the general fund, but actually stays in a separate, dedicated account until it is appropriated.
“No one else can appropriate your money,” Shackle said. Commissioner Teresa Bemiller will be attending the next RPC meeting and said that she can review the process for any RPC board members with questions.