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County ups insurance coverage fees

Employees unhappy with rate increase

Paul Shockley

Moffat County commissioners Wednesday approved across-the-board hikes in fees paid by county employees for health care coverage.

The move came after several employees, fearing future loss of benefits at a time health-care costs are skyrocketing nationally, told commissioners they’re living off ever-shrinking personal budgets.

“We realize Moffat County may have no choice but to reduce employee benefits in order to control costs,” Linda DeRose, chairman of the county’s health and welfare board, wrote in a letter to commissioners.

“Reducing benefits is not a decision that should be made lightly or overnight, but rather studied carefully in the best interests of the County and its employees.”

That, commissioners argued, must be balanced against the realities of strapped county coffers and Moffat County residents’ expectations.

This year alone, with operating expenses up roughly $400,000 over last year, the county has been hit with nine medical claims in excess of $100,000, DeRose said.

“The citizens are demanding more services with less money, and nobody wants to raise taxes,” said Commissioner Mariana Raftopoulos.

Toward an estimated $303,000 in savings, commissioners Wednesday approved health insurance hikes with its current plan offered to some 290 employees and dependents.

Deductibles, under the changes, will increase from $175 to $300 per year; $900 annually from $500 for families. Employee-only contributions to the plan will increase $50 per month, $100 per month for employees plus one individual and $130 per month for employee and family coverage.

Wednesday’s discussion also included larger themes of how best to fund expanding costs of providing government.

Several attendees argued for taking a stronger case to voters for tax increases; suggestions that received cold reception from commissioners.

“I don’t think we’re there yet, and I think we’d have to be very careful about how we do that,” said Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson.

“I put greater stock on the oil and gas sides.”

Raftopoulos said mill levy hikes have been considered. Routt County’s failed tax initiative on Nov. 5 shows it’s difficult sell, she argued.

And the county isn’t the only entity trying to fill coffers, she said

“The school district needs additional infrastructure, and they’ll have to be going for a mill levy increase,” Raftopoulos said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 to at pshockley@craigdailypress.com


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