Lee insurance plan includes employee increase

LEESBURG -- Despite what Personnel Committee spokesman Rick Muggridge called "better news than we'd hoped for," the Lee County Commission voted at a special called meeting Friday to approve changes to county employees' health benefits that will cost employees more money next year.

The Commission approved a plan that, while it adds a vision benefit, will cost single employees $10 more per pay period and employees on a family plan $20 more.

"Our employees have not been asked to increase the amount they're paying for insurance in more than 4 1/2 years," Muggridge said. "The Personnel Committee felt that it was time to ask that the employees participation be a little greater.

"Our recommendation is that we keep exactly the same plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield as the reinsurer/administrator, that we increase employee participation by the amount mentioned and that a vision benefit be added at no extra cost. We think the news is good, that this will make an already good plan even better."

Commissioners also voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of Sheriff Reggie Rachals and approve Ford Town of Albany as the supplier of two F-150 trucks that will replace a pair of sheriff's department vehicles that were damaged in recent accidents.

Ford Town's bid of $20,598.20 was slightly higher than the $20,120 bid

of Unadilla's Browning Ford, but Commission Chair Ed Duffy suggested going with the local bidder before he noted Rachals' recommendation.

"Any time we can, I like to keep our money in local coffers," Duffy said. "Ford Town employees live in Lee County, and it certainly is easier if any maintenance is needed."

Rachals said he had made the same recommendation, noting that the cost to the county would be minimal because "insurance had taken care of a good bit of the cost."

County Administrator Alan Ours said insurance coverage provided $38,000 of the cost of replacing the two vehicles, leaving a balance of $3,196.

"That amount would come from SPLOST (special-purpose local-option

sales tax) V funds," Duffy said.

The chairman asked the board to revisit the minutes of its Dec. 8 meeting, specifically the request by Muggridge to alter an ordinance limiting the use of county-owned facilities. The ordinance, approved by the Commission, would prohibit persons running for political office from using county facilities, specifically the Opal Cannon Auditorium at the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building.

"I've been mulling that decision since our meeting, and I think we should open our facilities to all candidates running for office," Duffy said.

When Commissioner Dennis Roland asked if that would open the public facilities to "political rallies," Duffy noted item 3 of the ordinance that gives the Commission the right to refuse use of the facilities for any event not considered "in the best interest of Lee County."

"My concern is that (County Attorney) Jimmy Skipper wrote this ordinance in the best interest of the county," Roland said. "Does it make sense for us to change it?"

In other action, which Ours said "needed to be taken care of before the end of the year," the Commission:

-- OK'd a call to move $1,300 from the county's forfeiture account to accommodate the transfer of county employee funds from one account to another;

-- Renewed a lease for inmate health care with Correct Health at a 2.9 percent increase (from $16,200 to $16,670); and

-- Approved the office of public defender's contract and budget.