Supervisors approve canvass of votes; discuss retirement and benefits

by jmagdefrau on June 21, 2010

VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors canvassed the result of the June 8 primary election at their meeting on June 15 in the courthouse in Vinton.

The board reviewed specifically the write-in votes, finding that a significant amount of write-in votes had been cast for the Republican supervisor position. The board voted that write-ins for Jason Sanders for the Republican candidate for Benton County supervisor as follows are to be considered: J. Sanders, Sanders, J., and Jason Sander. All other variations are not to be included. Sanders, the current board chairman, abstained from the vote.

The board then declared the canvass to be complete.

In other business:

The board approved a cigarette permit for Kimm’s Mini-Mart near Blairstown for the year beginning July 1, 2010.

The board approved a land use change requested by Shawn Golden on a parcel located in the N1/2 of the SW1/4 of 15-83-9, for a single residential use.

Sanders asked that the board consider making AFLAC insurance pre-tax. Sanders stated that by making it pre-tax it would save the county tax dollars. The auditor stated that it would take an amendment to the county’s Section 125 plan and setting up the county payroll software. The auditor stated that the past position of the board has been that a minimum number of employees have to express interest before implementing the change and at this time the only employee who has contacted her office expressing an interest is Supervisor Sanders. Sanders stated that the AFLAC agent indicated to him that more employees were interested. Supervisor Vermedahl stated that he would like to know exactly how many employees were interested before taking action. Supervisor Sanders attempted to contact the agent but was unable to reach her.

Judy Funk with Heartland Insurance Risk Pool reviewed the county’s insurance coverage for FY2011. There is an approximate 15 percent increase in costs for the coverage with a premium credit of $157,950. The board directed the chair to sign the insurance renewal agreement between Benton County and Heartland Insurance Risk Pool.

A resolution was approved that the Labor Grade classification of Darric McLeod will be IVD (Maintainer Operator). IVD base wage for Darric McLeod will be $17.73 per hour. Darric McLeod rate change will be effective June 16, 2010.

The supervisors approved a utility permit requested by South Slope Coop Telephone Company to place utility lines in the county’s right-of-way on the south side of 75th Street in Florence Township, Section 8.

The board entered into the ECICOG – Benton County Transportation FY2011 Transit Purchase of Service Contract.

Jerry Petermeier and Todd McNall updated the board on the law enforcement center construction as well as tower concerns. Petermeier reported that correspondence had been received about the communications tower near the construction site.  It was relayed that the tower was beginning to list to the south/southeast. Petermeier stated that he took some preliminary survey shots of the tower on Monday, June 14, 2010, and confirmed that it appears the tower is listing. Petermeier reported that he has contacted a structural engineer who specializes in towers and is awaiting his response. Benton County Auditor Jill Marlow advised that she has spoken with FEMA and that they will require a written report from the structural engineer as well as documentation from the county, but will probably reimburse the county for the work to stabilize the structure.

McNall reported he will submit a change order to the board for approval this week to address additional work required due to the debris in the dirt, upgrading from a cement to vinyl floor covering in certain areas of the jail, and two intercoms that were omitted from the original plan.

Scott Hansen reported that he is still filing documentation with FEMA for grant funds for the new emergency operations center.

The board approved the tax and penalty on parcel #220-00960, for the City of Van Horne, be abated.

The board again took up discussion on an early retirement program for county employees. Mary Ann Blumer, Mary Halstead, and Marc Greenlee were present. Dave Thompson, county attorney, attended by telephone. Vermedahl reported he spoke with Linda Langston regarding additional regulations. Langston told Vermedahl that she was referring to GASB 45 reporting. Vermedahl stated that he would prefer an actuarial study be done to determine whether there is a cost savings or not, including factors such as the number of years of experience, which provides the greatest benefit to the county, if any. Vermedahl stated that he would recommend that both plans that have been

The board voted that both plans be submitted to Nyhart for an actuarial study to determine that amount of cost savings. According to board minutes, Marc Greenlee suggested that various factors be included to get a better picture of the options. Thompson stated that he disagreed that an actuarial study be completed stating that county employees could do the work themselves. Voting aye: Vermedahl and Buch. Sanders nay. Motion carried.

The board approved hiring Nyhart to perform the actuarial study based on the two plans submitted. Greenlee suggested that a plan also be considered that provided that a 58-year-old with 20 years full-time service is eligible for early retirement. Sanders was opposed.

Marlow stated that after a conversation with Supervisor Sanders that the supervisors believe that the county is in such dire financial straights, she thought that perhaps the supervisors would “step up to the plate” and eliminate the mileage they get paid for coming to board meetings.

Supervisor Buch stated that he is not in favor of eliminating the reimbursement of the mileage expense, as he is required to live in his district. Sanders was not opposed to continuing to pay supervisors for driving to work.

The board voted to continue paying supervisors mileage to travel to and from the courthouse for board meetings and other county business. Comments were heard that no other employees get paid mileage to come to work and are here every day, as well as that the board is trying to decide whether to offer a benefit for early retirement to other employees and may not include elected officials, but does not have a problem providing a benefit that applies just to the supervisors themselves.

Vermedahl commented that he didn’t feel comfortable voting on a motion that does not affect him since he does not claim mileage to come to the courthouse. The motion carried.

The auditor spoke to the board about shifting spending authority to allow her to purchase replacement election equipment. The board stated that they would approve a service area amendment at the appropriate time to allow for the purchase.

The board authorized the chair to sign a revised insurance binder between Benton County and Wellmark due to recent rules regarding the Mental Health Parity Act.

This item was not on the agenda; however, action was taken for the following reasons: the binder had to be returned immediately in order for the county’s health insurance to be effective July 1, 2010; the rules regarding the Mental Health Parity Act were just released and were required to be implemented prior to the new policy year and Wellmark was requesting that the binder be returned the same day; the board had previously approved the health insurance binder at a meeting where the item had been on the agenda.

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