County board meeting

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2012

County eyes savings to keep Blue Cross

By Billy Davis

Insurance agent Kirk Scoggins told county supervisors Monday that county government will save approximately $47,000 during the next year due to lower premiums from insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield. 

Blue Cross has dropped its cost five percent for a one-year renewal and Scoggins suggested the Board of Supervisors continue with the company for another year.

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The monthly cost per employee is dropping from $514.54 to $488.81 according to figures Scoggins provided to the county board. Insurance for spouses and children dropped, too.

“That does create a good savings for you guys,” Scoggins said at the First District meeting in Sardis.

Supervisors agreed and voted unanimously to keep Blue Cross when the contract expires this month.

Panola County taxpayers pay premiums on health, vision and dental insurance for approximately 115 county employees.

Scoggins, of Ridgeland, also suggested Panola County keep insurer Humana for dental insurance and vision, and supervisors agreed.

Humana’s dental coverage is increasing 3 ½ percent over the current year, from $25.75 to $27.27, according to Scoggins’ figures. Competing companies Companion, Always Care and Ameritas all beat Humana’s cost.

“I’m not sure the savings is worth making the change,” Scoggins said, citing the expense of switching employees to a new insurance carrier.

“If you say, ‘Kirk, take the savings,’ I’ll do that happily,” he said, though supervisors voted to keep Humana a few minutes later.

Humana’s vision insurance increased 82 cents, from $5.18 to $6, but Scoggins recommended keeping it over competing carriers Always Care and Superior that had lower premiums.

“It’s worth it because Humana has a better network in Panola County,” the insurance agent said.

In other county business:

•Sheriff Dennis Darby requested a new $10 fee on all tickets written by the sheriff’s department, with the new funds allocated for purchasing radios. Supervisors approved the request.

Supervisors also approved the hiring of Rubert Morgan as a process server, and Wade Week and Jeremy Glover as part-time jailers. The salaries for all three are $10 an hour.

•Some supervisors appeared unhappy to do so but the county board agreed 5-0 to pay approximately $11,000 in fees to airport consultant Mike Corkern.

Corkern requested the increases June 4 due to the cost of re-bidding an airport construction project, but supervisors balked at the request and blamed Corkern for the re-bidding, and tabled a decision.

Corkern again made the request in person Monday, telling the board he had shaved $2,000 from his original request. 

Board attorney Bill McKenzie came to Corkern’s defense, telling supervisors there was no way to know one of the bidders would threaten legal action against the county. The lowest bidder failed to submit required paperwork for the federal project and was passed over for the second-lowest bid. 

“I think we learned a lesson: take it under advisement,” McKenzie said.

•Supervisors voted to approve a 10-year lease with Viney Creek Gravel Pit at 70 cents per yard.

•Attorney McKenzie advised the board that there is an opening on the Industrial Development Authority after the passing of Bobbie Jean Pounders.

•Supervisors approved the hiring of Buddy Hawkins for the tax assessor’s office to assist field appraiser Ken Hawkins.

“This is the year for reappraisals,” Tax Assessor/Collector David Garner told the county board.

Garner said Hawkins’ salary will be $30,000 and said he would amend his budget to reflect the hiring.

•Supervisors approved a one-year Panola County Solid Waste contract with the City of Batesville.