Sups discuss maintenance work

Webster County will take the first steps toward major repairs to its Engineering Department’s maintenance facilities.

The Board of Supervisors authorized payment for the first phase of planning and design for the buildings at 2096 240th St., south of Fort Dodge. County Engineer Randy Will said work could begin as early as this year, but more likely will wait until spring 2015.

Will said the two road maintenance buildings, located along U.S. Highway 169 and south of U.S. Highway 20, are used for equipment storage and repair.

“The south building (storage) is failing, and the north building (repair) is substandard,” Will said.

The trusses are failing in two of the three sections in the south building, and the roof has been repaired twice before.

“There’s a lot of electrical issues and everything else,” he said. “Rather than try and spend money to fix that I think the money’s better spent with a new facility for equipment storage.”

The board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Calhoun-Burns and Associates for an estimated total cost of $182,318 for the planning and design.

Insurance

Amanda Baker, with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, gave the supervisors an update on the county’s group health program with the Iowa State Association of Counties.

It’s a self-funded plan, she said, and so relies on the fund balance built up by the 24 counties that participate. The plan also purchases Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance for higher claims.

Baker said the Affordable Care Act necessitated some adjustments to the plan.

“For employers that have over 100, you guys are in much less, I guess ‘dire’ circumstances as far as trying to measure out hours and things like that,” she added. “They’re saying you have to cover at least 70 percent of your people in 2015. Then in 2016 they’ll raise it back up to 95 percent.”

New fees from the ACA will be paid by ISAC this year, she said.

Webster County had a better use ratio this year than many of the other counties at 83 percent, she said, bringing in more premiums than it spent. Baker wasn’t sure what caused this, but said it’s normal for the ratio to fluctuate up and down. The county gets about a 5 percent discount this year because of that lower rate.

The county also had lower amounts of stop-loss claims this year. ISAC purchases stop-loss credits from Wellmark to cover individuals who go over $100,000 in claims.

“Hopefully that means our wellness initiatives are helping keep those high claimants from getting to those high levels,” Baker said.