JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – The recent school employee health insurance issue was quickly resolved at Monday night’s commission meeting.
A standing room crowd of school officials, board members and employees packed the courtroom Monday night as commissioners suspended the rules to deal with the insurance problem.
A motion by Commissioner Zachary Marlow summed up the problem and solution together, reading that “In 2011 at the request of the board of education, signed by Board Chairman Mike Orick and Acting Director Sharon Ridenour, the commission voted to transfer all full time classified (non-teacher) employees to the county insurance plan in order to provide retiree insurance available under the county plan.”
On Sept. 22, the education department was notified by the Tennessee Dept. of Insurance that the county could not have employees on two different plans and would need to transfer all classified employees back to the state plan or move teachers to the county plan. Failure to make the correction could result in financial penalties, board members were told at a called meeting on Oct. 6.
Minutes from the Oct. 6 meeting seem to indicate that some board members were critical of the dept. of finance and asked such questions as “how to get away from finance oversight,” but Finance Assistant Director Richard Terry said last week that finance made the change in insurance back in 2011 at the request of the school board.
Finance Director Jeff Marlow and school board attorney Dail Cantrell both advised the county commission also had to approve any changes in insurance coverage since both bodies had approved the 2011 transfer. As a result, Zachary Marlow introduced the resolution passed by the commission Monday night that transferred all full-time classified employees back to the same state plan that covers teachers.
The change will affect cooks, secretaries, custodians and teaching assistants and according to Campbell County Director of Schools Jennifer Fields, will have some initial upfront costs but end up saving as much as $250,000 a year. When asked if the county had made an error in changing the coverage in 2011, Terry said it appears the state changed some policies in 2015 and those changes are just now catching up to the county.
Once the insurance problem was resolved, the courtroom quickly emptied out and the commission dispensed of the rest of its agenda. Commisisoner Rusty Orick introduced motions to accept the Rogers Group estimate for striping and sealing the paving at the sheriff’s dept. overflow lot, as well as a motion to accept a 2.5 acre land transfer, by quit claim deed, on Pine Mountain near the former Rarity Mountain development.
That property is being donated at no cost by Robert Lyttle for the construction of a cell tower to improve sheriff’s department communications in the mountainous north end of the county. Orick also introduced resolutions to approve the waterline extension list and the EMS mutual aid agreement. All motions passed unanimously.
Orick also asked for an update on the situation with the Department of Sanitation’s Towe String Road facility but the commission was told that the repair work on trucks is still not completed but the backlog of garbage is less serious, although there are “still 20-plus loads still at the dump.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/25/2022-6AM)